Days of Our Lives, as the World Turns

by William T. James

Powerful forces are at work beneath the relative tranquillity that masks the true state of our nation and the world. Ours is a society that boils with turbulence beneath a veneer of sophistication. It is a society mirrored by television soap operas and hedonistic movies which have, in turn, mesmerized much of the American public. Life has indeed imitated art, while year after year morals have degenerated and the very concept of morality has been turned upside-down and inside out. We are a people given a thrill-a- minute fix to satisfy our insatiable cravings for instant gratification. We are a people all the while descending deeper and deeper into depravity.

Gleam and glitter and unparalleled technological gadgetry have procured for the American public hours upon hours of time for pleasure-seeking, and it is more than abundantly obvious, for mischief-making. While it is true that the moguls of science provide great benefits for human health, wealth, and achievement within the sphere of human potential, to see the direction in which all of this is truly sweeping us, one has only to consider any given local evening news broadcast. We are not as a society every day and in every way, getting better and better like the New Age evolutionary thinkers would have us believe. Feeding our voracious appetites for more exciting thrills and greater pleasures has served only to generate phenomenal growth in criminal activity. Those who perceive themselves to be the have nots ravenously desire those material things which the American propagandists flash before their lusting eyes. Because Big Brother government has, in effect, destroyed work ethic through give-away welfare programs but can in no way give this dependent class the shimmering lifestyle it lusts after, the rip in the fabric of society worsens daily as the ungovernable elements engage in the only occupation they believe can secure for them the thrills and pleasures they seek. As a result, gang members as young as seven years of age live and often die in their unattainable pursuits.

Last-Days Scenarios

Can there be any doubt that conditions and activities which God's Word predicts will be prevalent while the end of the age approaches are now being played out before our very eyes? The similarities between the biblical descriptions and the reports we witness on our nightly newscasts are stunningly evident. Man's atrocities against his fellow man are pandemic. Stories of debased human behavior are so numerous that those items which would have formerly been front page headlines now are relegated to pages farther back because even more heinous stories overshadow them.

Jesus himself prophesied about the generation that would inhabit Planet Earth at the time of His Second Advent: "But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matt: 24:37). Jesus Christ, who is God himself, gave with that reference based upon Scripture recorded in the past and Scripture He knew was yet to be recorded - an unmistakable characterization of the generation alive at the time of His Second Advent. Jesus said, while discoursing with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, that that generation, like the pre-flood society of Noah's day, will be "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" (Matt. 24:38). Like in Noah's day, society will be conducting business as usual, having become desensitized to the perversities going on around them and even more desensitized to any consideration of the things of God and the fact that divine judgment was already on the way.

Daniel the prophet said: "And the end of it shall be with a flood" (Dan. 9: 26), meaning a flood of incorrigibly wicked behavior and a flood of God's wrath and judgment poured upon that unrepentant, blasphemous people of the apocalypse. Jesus said that the generation alive at the end of the age will be totally immersed in doing what is right in their own eyes, as were the antediluvians of Noah's day. The people of that earlier, doomed generation were marrying, partying, and busily engaged in commerce while their perversions, debaucheries, violence, and blasphemies were simply well-accepted, even welcomed ingredients within the cultural and societal mixture of the time. Jesus said that they were carrying on as usual "until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the son of man be" (Matt. 24:28-39).

Jesus was saying that people living at the time of His return will have become so rebellious as to have rejected the notion of a CreatorGod. Their thinking will have become so reprobate, their consciences so seared, that many will no doubt even forget that such a God was ever said to have existed! Christ's coming will be so swift and startling that it will be analogous to the horror of that long ago, worldwide deluge that destroyed all but those who were found righteous in God's eyes. Just prior to that flood Enoch disappeared, having been translated into the presence of the God with whom he walked righteously (Gen. 5:24). Noah and his family were supernaturally preserved upon the raging sea that engulfed the entire earth (Gen. 8).

Jesus also drew the parallel between the time of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the days that will immediately precede the consummation of the age. "Also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed" (Luke 17:28-29).

Peter the apostle wrote about Lot's days of interaction with the people of Sodom: "For that righteous man [Lot] dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds" (2 Pet. 2:8). Peter then went on to imply the type of behavior which greatly disturbed Lot - the sort of behavior that inevitably brings on Almighty God's indignation and judgment.

But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they; self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.... But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption, And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. Spots they are and blemishes, reveling with their own deceiving while they feast with you. Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls; an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children, Who have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray.... These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with the tempest, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that are just escaping from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" (2 Pet. 2:8-19).

God's Word speaks powerfully of His opinion about the vile activities that were commonplace during Lot's day warning all generations that His righteous judgment must and will fall on those who engage in ungodly enterprises. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. In like manner also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities ... these speak evil of those things which they know not; but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain. ... Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever" (Jude 7-13).

The Holy Scripture then rolls before the mind's eye of our imagination the awesome truth contained within the words, "it is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10: 3 1). As the Book of Jude continues: "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convict all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These are they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit" (Jude 14-19).

Apologies to Sodom and Gomorrah

Ruth Bell Graham is attributed to have made the statement, in the context of surveying the growing wickedness she observed in her nation, that if God did not judge the United States, He would surely have to apologize to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Many years have passed since Mrs. Graham allegedly made that (in my opinion, very correct) assessment. Does the fact that the United States has not been obliterated by fire and brimstone, all of its population consumed in a thermonuclear holocaust or by supernatural fire from the heavens, mean that we, as a nation of people, are improving in our conduct to the extent the Almighty will not judge like He did those now- extinct, ancient cities? Or does it mean that Mrs. Graham was wrong?

One thing is sure. God is never wrong and thus need never apologize for His actions. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8.) His immutability is perfectly consistent as recorded throughout His Word to His creation called mankind. Thankfully, and praise His holy name, so is His quality of mercy, His slowness to anger and wrath - else the little, though tremendously prideful creature called man, would long ago have ceased to exist.

Mrs. Graham dramatically made the frightening (but true) point that sin ultimately brings death to individuals and to nations who transgress God's laws and refuse to repent. God's judgment might, in some cases, seem slow in falling as man counts finite time, but God's judgment is certain! This brings us to the question: Where does America - and for that matter, the world - stand in relationship to sin, repentance, and God's judgment like that which consumed the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah? Has the TV soap opera- like hedonism in which our society has gleefully bathed made the days of our lives, as the world turns, cleaner for all my children - and yours? Or have the filth and scum simply been loosened from the bottom of the world's bathtub and brought to the surface through glamour and aggrandizement to the point they stick to and permeate our lives while they, at the same time, provide a putrefying cesspool environment for sin-germs to incubate and for soul- destroying infection to spread?

Examination, Diagnosis of and Prognosis for a Sick World

Most adults in America today would, if honesty prevailed, acknowledge that our culture has changed markedly during the course of the last decade. Many of those adults - especially those of us 40 years of age and older - would have to admit, if that same degree of honesty held firm, societal conditions in America and the world have suffered phenomenal degeneration despite spectacular technological breakthroughs and sometimes heroic efforts to better mankind's lot by individuals and institutions. That the human race is in rapid decline does not surprise Christians who are spiritually attuned to the prophetic warnings of their Heavenly Father's written Word.

"Evil men and seducers shall become worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13). "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, Having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it.... For of this sort are they who creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with various lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of truth" (2 Tim. 3:1-7).

Does any of that seem familiar? Indeed, has not the entertainment industry, even down to and including the hundreds of hours of commercial advertising productions with which our senses are assaulted daily crept into our houses and "led captive, silly women" and incidentally - "silly men"? Are not our fallen human lusts whipped into ever-heightening frenzies while we see mankind's most wicked imaginings glamorously advertised on our television screens? Is it any wonder that our national and world societies have, in biblical terms, "gone the way of Cain"?

Paul the Apostle, in that 2 Timothy account, warned that the last days' generation will pay the price for its self-sufficient, self-centered godlessness. "For their folly shall be manifest to all men" (2 Tim. 3:9).

Manifestations of Sin-Diseased Society

Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kansas), speaking in Hollywood against what he called the moral pollution that comes out of the entertainment industry, said: "Our music, movies, television, and advertising regularly push the limits of decency, bombarding our children with destructive messages of casual violence and even more casual sex. The line of decency has been crossed. It is crossed every time sexual violence is given a catchy tune, when teen suicide is set to an appealing beat, when Hollywood's dream factories turn out nightmares of depravity." John Gizzy, editor of Human Events, said of Dole's speech:

This declaration of war on the kingpins of culture sounds familiar, a lot like Dan Quayle's Murphy Brown speech three years ago. The only difference is the reaction when the then-vice president fired his missile on Murphy, the media, the moguls generally mocked him, saying it was foolish for a national figure to criticize a fictional character. And besides, it was an election year and the economy was what folks wanted to hear about. Well, not so with Mr. Dole's speech. Although many in the press said he was harsh, and Hollywood is whining its mantra of "I'm being picked on," the Senate majority leader is also winning praise for what the majority of us have thought privately: That there is a relationship between the salaciousness of entertainment and an increasingly unpleasant America, a place where we've gone from "Leave it to Beaver" to "Beavis and Butthead" and from sons hunting with their fathers to sons hunting their fathers.'

Dr. James Dobson, a well-known psychologist and outspoken proponent for the concept of Judeo-Christian morality in America, brought to light in an agonizingly revealing way the extent to which America's love affair with sin has now reached the depths that her "folly" is beginning to become "manifest to all men." In a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters during February 1994 at Washington, DC, Dobson said regarding the children of America:

There is something that is going on in their spirits and their hearts and their souls, and it is dramatic. We have had a 500 percent increase in violence among the young since 1960. The number of teenagers killed by gunshot wounds has increased 85 percent since 1980.... A child born and raised in the United States has a 15 times greater probability of being killed by gunshot than a child born and raised in Northern Ireland. We've become one of the most violent nations in the history of the world. And especially with the violence that we are perpetrating on children and they are passing on to one another, we have raised ... at least a part of a generation that believes that the way to deal with conflict is you kill somebody, you shoot somebody.

Tulane University just released a research project where they asked suburban high school students about this matter of teen violence. They asked them, "When is it appropriate to shoot somebody?" That's quite a question. Can you imagine, 20 years ago, asking a question like that - when does it make sense to shoot somebody? Twenty percent of those suburban, high school kids said it is appropriate to shoot somebody if they steal something petty theft. It's appropriate to kill them! Eight percent of those kids said it is appropriate to shoot somebody who insults you.... It is an unbelievable development that has occurred in this culture.

The Rhode Island Rape Crisis Center asked a similar question. It asked, "When is it appropriate, when does it make sense, when is it right, for a boy to force a girl to have sex with him?" Now another word for that is "rape." So "When is it appropriate for a guy to rape a girl?" Another incredible question. Twenty-five percent of the boys in the sixth through the ninth grade said it is appropriate for a boy to force a girl to have sex with him if he has spent money on her. They asked them how much, and the average is $10- $15. If he spends 15 bucks on her, he's got a right to rape her! They believe this! Ibis is what they've been taught, or at least what they've been hearing. And 67 percent of them said that if a boy had dated a girl for six to eight months, he's got a right to rape her. This is the world in which they live. This is the violence of the world of the young.

And the violence that's taking place there now ... is dramatically different than it was a few years ago. Because it is frequently without passion. It is without anger. It is wanton brutality. It is without conscience. It is without compassion. It is violence for violence's sake. You have been reading about it in the papers and so have 1.

In Virginia, there was a 14-year-old boy sitting in a car at a stop light and he got out of his car, someone else was driving, and walked over to the car next to him and shot the man sitting there. He shot him six times in the face with a 45-caliber pistol. They asked him why he did it; he said, "Because he was checkin' me out." The man looked at him and he killed him!

In Seattle, there were 12- and 13-year-old boys who decided to kill the next customer who came out of a 7-11 convenience store. So they sat there and waited randomly for who came out. It happened to be a 72-year-old man and they beat him to death with a baseball bat just to watch him die. This [sort of thing] occurred occasionally in the past, but it's an everyday happening now.

In West Palm Beach, Florida, a 13-year-old girl took a ride in a cab. There was a $6 cab fare at the end. Instead of paying it, she blew the back of the head off of the cab driver. Her own mother said, "It was frightening; she didn't shed a tear. She didn't even care. . . ."

Now, what's going on here?.. . Some of us, myself included, blame a lot of it on Hollywood, the entertainment industry ... the Rambo-type nonsense that's going on. We've just pumped violence into the ears and the eyes of these kids ... but that's still not the basis of the problem. When you really get down and look at it, it comes right back to the disintegration of the family and the victimization of children that takes place, especially in the inner city but throughout our society [as well]. .

Dobson went on to itemize the many self-centered activities such as drugs and alcohol abuse and all other forms of selfish living that cause parents to neglect their children.

When you put all of that together, you've got an incredible number of abused and neglected children ... the latest estimate I've seen is something on the order of 10 million abused and neglected children that are out there. And you have, not uncommonly - and social workers will tell you this - a baby who is left in the crib for two or three days with dirty diapers, and when he gets diaper rash and cries from the pain, he is slapped and hit and beaten. All of us who have been on the faculties of large hospitals have seen these kids coming in, have seen them broken and battered and bruised and wounded. There is a phenomenon that's called the "red sock syndrome." It's where parents get angry at their kids and to punish them, they get scalding hot water in the bathtub and they sit these kids down in it and it scalds and blisters their feet, and they come in looking like they have red socks on. And they put their little bottoms in it. I mean, one mother in Los Angeles cut her child's eyes out with a razor blade. It is unbelievable what is happening to children. It must break the heart of God to see what we're doing to kids, and not just a few of them there have always been some kids that have been abused, but there are millions of them out there ......

Dr. Dobson went on to say that perhaps the neglect of America's children is even worse than the abuse.

We have five and six year olds now across the country who get u p in the morning with nobody to dress them or look out for them, teach them anything. They go into the kitchen and try to find for themselves something to eat, some cereal or something. They go off to school, they come home alone, they are in the house alone. Newsweek magazine did a cover story called "Growing Up Scared. [These children] come home through these terrifying neighborhoods. Newsweek described it in such graphic terms: "These pitiful little forms sitting in front of the flickering television sets and the lengthening shadows of winter move up the walls and flood the comers. These kids are alone, there by themselves."

I'll tell you something else about children who are not supervised by parents. They are sitting ducks for pedophiles. A pedophile who knows his business, it's usually a man, a bedeviled who knows what he's-doing can move into a setting like a video center or a place where children congregate, and in five minutes he can have that vulnerable kid under his control because he gives that child what he hasn't got anywhere else - love and attention. And then he exploits him and abuses him and destroys him.

Dobson continued by saying that tremendous sums of money have been expended by the federal government to research cause and effect within the dynamics of the tremendously increasing violence being experienced by American society today.

They now believe ... that this generation of teenagers who have no conscience or very little conscience have been brain-damaged at birth or very shortly after - some of them, even in utero, from the stresses associated with disintegrating families. So these kids that shoot people on the streets are not like the rest of us; they don't feel. They can't feel. They can't feel for other people. They have no empathy, they have no conscience. And their brutality is a reflection of the rage they have inside, but which is not linked to the governing authority of our consciences that keep it in check.

Dr. Dobson summarized the days of our lives, as the world turns in America, by saying, in part:

Society is going to pay an incredible price for the neglect and the rejection of this generation of kids. We have become so selfish, so self-centered, so determined to have it all, that we have kids around our feet who hardly know us.... The generation I'm describing is like a storm cloud moving over the Pacific heading for the West Coast. It's going to be over Colorado before very long, and it's going to move on across the East Coast, That generation is going to be in charge. They're going to be the parents of tomorrow. And America is in a great deal of trouble. [One psychiatrist has] said, "We've lost one generation. We may be able to survive it. But we will not survive the loss of another."... Because what happens to the family affects everything else. Everything sits on that foundation. Our institutions, our government, our way of life, our faith that's dependent on the family. You can't evangelize the next generation if the family is destroyed.'

To carry the analogy of our soap opera-like existence in America today a bit further, it is altogether accurate but perhaps a glaring understatement to characterize a huge and growing segment of our children as "the young and the restless."

World's Elevated Fever Now Accepted as Normal

The fact that we live in a world that grows sicker by the minute is undeniable except to the most ostrich-like among us. A head-in-the-sand approach to life might, for a time, provide a degree of insulation against the worsening conditions closing in on even the most isolated havens of safety. Nonetheless, the time seems to be rapidly approaching when this generation of earth's population will reach the fever pitch of that ancient generation described by Paul the apostle in his letter to the Romans. Those people, like many - perhaps the majority - of our present generation of people, apparently thought the conditions which engulfed them were merely normal for the times in which they lived. They failed to detect the rising, killing temperature of their societal fever like in the perhaps trite but appropriate proverbial story of the frog simmering, then finally boiling to death in a pot of water because the rise in temperature was so gradual he could not sense the change. Could it be that this generation of earth dwellers, like those in Noah's day, like those about whom Paul wrote, is failing to or woefully refusing to read the thermometer of our time?

Paul wrote God's thoughts to all generations - perhaps particularly to the generation of people who will be alive at the time of Christ's return - about the course of degenerate human conduct that inevitably brings the Almighty's righteous judgment:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse; Because, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds, and four- footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves, Who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Rom. 1: 18-23).

God, through the apostle Paul, then sets down some very specific forms of depravity that are inescapably familiar.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did exchange the natural use for that which is against nature; And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was fitting. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not seemly, Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, insolent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents; Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful; Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom. 1:26-32).

Case Histories Then and Now

It is perhaps a misnomer to characterize this chapter with the title "Days of Our Lives as the World Turns." A more descriptive title for the darkening times might be "The Edge of Night." This generation, if our hourly newscasts are accurate indicators, is indeed raging toward a precipice beyond which lurks the black abyss of apocalypse. Certainly world society has for some time now been exhibiting all of the symptoms that were prevalent during the time of the ancients, symptoms of the sin-virus engendered incorrigibility which caused a loving God to give the patient up to its self-willed self- destruction. Notice that Paul writes in Romans 1:28 that "God gave them over to a reprobate MIND."

That generation, like the ancients of Sodom and Gomorrah who would come later, were of one absolutely unchangeable mindset. They would rather perish than change! They were all in agreement. They were all inalterably determined that each had the right to do what was right in his own eyes.

Undoubtedly, these judgment-bound societies termed doing what was right in their own eyes "freedom of choice." They pursued their own form and concept of life, liberty, and happiness totally apart from the loving God who created them. In their willful right to choose, obstinacy lay the chains of their enslavement to sin and, ultimately, God's wrath and, ultimately, destruction. It took the gushing waters of a broken earth and an angry, deluging sky to cleanse the sin-sick world of Noah's pre-flood days. It took the fire and brimstone conflagration sent by a God of righteous judgment to purify that area of the earth's surface occupied by the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah during Lot's day.

Symptoms of Degenerative Sin-Disease Then and Now

God's Holy Word speaks bluntly about the cause and effect of sin-disease that ravaged the earliest reported civilizations. Considering the Holy Spirit's words spoken through Paul's pen, it is clear that the people of those ancient civilizations flatly rejected the truth of God, although God plainly manifested himself to them. "Because, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Rom. 1:21-22).

Let us briefly attempt to dissect what God's Word tells us was a systemic infection within that antediluvian society, with the hope of determining similarities between the state of moral decay during their time on earth as compared to our own.

Symptom #1: Idolatry - The Antediluvian

Paul reported about the corrupted ancients that they "changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves, Who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" (Rom. 1:23-25).

God's first statement in Paul's letter to the Romans in reference to sinful behavior that causes His anger to rise and His wrath to fall upon unrepentant mankind, whether individuals or nations, is frighteningly unequivocal. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1: 18). After stating that He has clearly made himself known to humankind through the creation that surrounds them, God exposes that early generation's unthankfulness and points an omniscient finger of guilt toward their idolatrous betrayal, the particular act which seems most egregious to Him.

Those people had "changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man." In other words, this generation, although they knew that God is God, nonetheless rejected Him and His own declaration to himself, the Godhead (the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit). "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26.). These willful people in effect said to the Almighty, "We are not made like unto your image; rather, we will make you into whatever image we choose!" They were obviously saying further, "We, like Lucifer, choose to become gods ourselves! Even though we are creatures, we choose to worship and serve ourselves - that is, do what is right in our own eyes - rather than worship and serve You even though all creation that surrounds us are clearly witness to the fact that you are the Creator."

That generation, like Lucifer, who is that old serpent, Satan, and the devil, thereby exhibited the sinful thing which God says He hates above all others; their idolatry brought into focus their supremely arrogant PRIDE.

The writer of Proverbs records for us God's opinion of this most heinous sin. "These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look" (Prov. 0: 16-17).

Idolatry, then, springs from, then orbits the iniquitous thing called pride. When idolatry becomes full-blown, i.e., a state of arrogance that manifests itself through determination to usurp the very throne of the eternal God, God apparently quits dealing with that individual, with that generation, and allows their mind to become reprobate. This means the mindset is one that is darkened by the infection called sin to the point that insanity rather than rationality rules the minds of men - not only the physical minds of men, but spiritual discernment as well. When that point of incorrigibility is reached and God lets man do what is right in his own eyes, human society is very soon turned upside down.

Almighty God, using His people, Israel, to speak not only to the generation of that time but to all generations and all nations, warns of the consequences of becoming so vile as a society or as an individual that God allows reprobate mentality to have its way. "Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! ... Therefore, as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust, because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled" (Isa. 5:20-25).

God expounds further through the prophet Isaiah about such prideful nations and individuals. "Ali, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be [dealt with through correction] anymore? Ye will revolt more and more; the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores. They have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment" (Isa. 1:4-6).

Isaiah then continues by putting forth the terrifying fact that in God's foreknowing mind, these and all such reprobate peoples will suffer terribly. In God's thoughts, their fall is already an accomplished thing. ". . . Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land, foreigners devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners" (Isa. 1:7).

When Pride Equals Death

God told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the fruit that was forbidden, they would surely die. They nonetheless succumbed to the serpent's tempting appeal to their pride - the implied promise that if they ate of the fruit, they would be "as God." So pride, the sort that causes human beings to desire to usurp Almighty God's authority, is poison to those who fall to its alluring tug just as God warned. We can say with certainty that God's warning about the fatally toxic effects of disobedience to Him was true. Every person inevitably gives up his physical existence to death. Pride, then, is not a characteristic that leads to a more desirable quality of life as those who preach selfesteem would have it, but it is a fallen human trait that has always brought and continues to bring death to all mankind.

A most tragic manifestation of humanistic pride equaling death is most clearly seen in the human historical record. Every civilization, culture, and society that has gone so deep into idolatry as to have exchanged "the truth of God for a lie" have had as a common practice in their idol worship the insane horror of child sacrifice.

History is replete with accounts of human sacrifice to pagan gods. Almost always those sacrifices involve the most vulnerable. Children, young women, and sometimes the aged were most often selected by the practitioners of those abominable acts to placate their insatiable gods. We have all read of the Incas and the Aztecs, of the ancient Hawaiians, and of many other so-called civilizations whose hearts became so sin-blackened that their foolish minds grew dark, and human sacrifice was the ultimate result. However, it is a sad truth that those heathens were not the only societies to reach that depth of depravity. God wrote through Jeremiah the prophet: "Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face; though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction. But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it. And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin" (Jer. 32:32-35).

The Contemporary Heathen

There is no way the people of today's world as we approach the dawn of a new millennium would do the foolish and even insane acts historically attributed to those ancient heathen! Such might be the wishful acclamation of the most optimistic among our number in today's world. Especially in America. Surely an overwhelming majority of Americans would never fall prey to idolatry that, for example, "changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." Oh no?

With the primary god of this age, mammon (money), have not the affluent among our ranks, individually and collectively, fashioned the idols we have chosen to worship into forms that pleasure our own imaginations? Instead of worshipping the Creator, do we of this generation not rather bend the knee to our cars, boats, and our sports teams - many of which we have named after birds, four-footed beasts, and creeping things or after signs of the zodiac? Do we not sit for hours at a time before our television sets, amused at the debased activities we see, some of which might have made even the ancient pagans blush? The debasing goings-on within our television screens draw our transfixed attention, in many cases resulting in the neglect of our children who desperately need and want nurturing. Are these not altars from which emanate the images made like corruptible man?

But surely ours is not a generation of earth dwellers that has reached the point God has given us over to a collective reprobate mind. We would never allow child sacrifice, which is one of the sure manifestations of a totally reprobate civilization. Really?

Since Roe v. Wade was upheld by the Supreme Court of the land, more than 30 million babies have been aborted. Under the auspices of the secular religion called humanism, these little ones were and continue to be judged nothing more than self-created possessions subject to disposal, should the women carrying them so choose. Abortion on demand has generated a multi-billion- dollar industry based on infanticide (some would say feticide). By far, the greater number of abortions are performed for the purpose of ridding the person and/or people involved of the child who would, they fear, interfere with their own self-centered lifestyle. The majority are abortions of convenience, contraception after the fact of, in most cases, illicit sexual activity.

If God judged Israel for turning her back on Him, rebellion that brought a mindset so darkened by sin that they offered children in sacrifice to pagan Gods, will He not judge America? No other nation has been more blessed with the light of God's Truth. Yet daily, under the full sanction of the United States government, thousands of our children are passed through the fires of abortion, sacrificed to the gods of convenience and pleasure and hedonism under the specious claim that a woman has a right to choose to do what she wishes with her own body. In this convoluted way, freedom of choice becomes the willful demand to do what is right in their own eyes. In effect, she proclaims herself to be god-like. Child sacrifice, then, is idolatry come to fruition.

Symptom # 2 Sexual Perversion

Paul the apostle, under inspiration, gave the second most pronounced manifestation of any society that has totally turned its back on the loving God who has, time and time again, called for it to turn from its course of wickedness. In spite of the liberal theological acrobatics some theologians and even secular humanists go through to try to explain away this and other accounts of sexual perversions that inevitably come to a hopelessly godless people, history attests to the truth that societal decay ends in the death throes of the basest kind of sexual depravity.

The Antediluvians

Paul writes of the decadent societal characteristic that is second only to immersion in idolatry. "God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did exchange the natural use for that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves the recompense of their error which was fitting" (Rom. 1:26-27).

Historical accounts of Greece and Rome, and to a lesser extent of other civilizations, validate and expand upon Paul's brief but graphic description of the sexual cesspool in which these ancients ultimately became mired. There can be no rational denial made of the fact that Paul reported homosexuality to be the most glaring manifestation of that society's incorrigibility.

We should take note of God's account through Paul of the fact that these people so submerged in sexual prurience - particularly the male homosexuals - were "receiving in themselves the recompense of their error, which was fitting." It is an appropriate speculation to make that this must have been AIDS and/or hepatitis or something similar. It is interesting, too, that God said in this account that these homosexuals were receiving in their bodies judgment because of the error (the sin) of their homosexual activities. God's Word says quite bluntly that the punishment fit the crime.

The Contemporary Heathen

To review the past several decades with regard to how homosexuality has evolved from being a thing kept in our culture's closet to its acceptance now as an "alternate lifestyle" would be boringly redundant because of our familiarity with the facts. We have been fed daily doses of desensitizing hyperbole intended to convince us to accept that terrible, dehumanizing activity as not only normal, but as "gay. " What God calls "vile, " modem man calls "gay. " Perhaps nothing more need be said about how thinking in our generation has become so reprobate that evil is now called good, and good is now called evil. Not only is what God called "vile" now called "gay," but those who give a clarion call back to morality and point out the minddarkened sin-error of such perversion are vilified as "intolerant bigots" at best or as "homophobic Nazi- types" at worst.

While AIDS and the many deadly infections spawned and perpetuated by the homosexual activity raging unabated throughout the world today are reasons for great concern, the disregard for human dignity and the sanctity of human life fostered by such permissiveness are even greater cause for alarm.

One recent case in point illustrates that a permissive society whose philosophy revolves around unbridled sexual liberty takes its people down a broad road that leads to human degradation and even death.

In an article titled, "Sex, Death, and Videotape," an account of sexual freedom taken to its ultimate extent emerged from what has seemingly become an avalanche of such reports.

In Canada, the murder trial of the year isn't O.J.'s. The two victims, innocent girls in their early teens, wept while a video camera recorded their suffering. Raped and beaten and destined for strangulation, they were held as sex slaves in a suburban Ontario bedroom. Their kidnapper forced the girls to act out his fantasies and call him master. He taunted them with their impending deaths, forcing the second girl to watch videotape of her predecessor's ordeal. And they weren't his only victims. The first was his wife's little sister, who was drugged and served up to him one holiday eve. "A great Christmas present for me," he was quoted as saying. That was the story Canadians had waited two years to hear. When the sensational trial of the alleged sex killer, a clean-cut young accountant named Paul Bernardo, finally began in Toronto last week, the prosecutor's six-hour opening statement made listeners cringe.... Just before Christmas in 1990, Carla [Bernardo's wife], helped him ply her sister, Tammy, 15, with liquor and sleeping pills until she passed out. Bernardo is charged with raping Tammy and forcing Carla to perform oral sex on her, recording it all on video. The unconscious Tammy later died, choking on her own vomit in what was initially ruled an accidental death."'

Other Symptoms of a Sin-Sick Generation

Many symptoms of systemic sin sickness boil to the surface and erupt for all to see between the time a society determines to turn its back on God and the time a people become so wicked God gives up pleading for them to repent because their hearts and minds cannot be turned again to Him. Again, the apostle Paul starkly delineates specific symptoms displayed by a society well on its way to incorrigibility and thus God's judgment. Consider carefully God's examining checklist as put forth in Paul's letter to the Romans. Recall for a moment your own experiences as you have dealt with the people in situations around you this past month while going about life's activities. Recognize any of the symptoms within Paul's description?

"Being filled with all unrighteouness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, insolent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents; Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful; Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but have pleasure in them that do them" (Rom. 1:29-32).

The Cure!

How sick is the patient? What is the prognosis for the sin sickness that courses through the life's blood of this generation? We must seek answers to these questions by first examining our own lives. Society, culture, and civilization is no better or worse collectively than its individual members. The sickness that afflicts one afflicts all. The good news is there is a cure. And the cure is THE GOOD NEWS! The Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ who came to seek and to save every person from the darkness of sin. God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).

Jesus Christ alone can regenerate the hearts and minds of fallen man and restore him to health and newness of life. If you haven't done so, take the cure. Accept Jesus Christ this moment as your Saviour and your Lord. Then the days of your life, as the world turns, will fill with energy and excitement while you seek to serve the One who dispels the darkness of this doomed age. Jesus is the Guiding Light!