With the continuing moral and spiritual deterioration of our culture, as evidenced by the increasing raunchiness of movies and television programs, we, as Christians, are increasingly having to ask ourselves, “What can we do?” How can we best combat the evils in our society?
BY LEGISLATION? It has been said that you can’t legislate morality. This is both true and false. It is true that no law has ever been made that cannot be broken—and sooner or later is. But, at the same time, we HAVE to legislate morality. Otherwise, we should not have laws concerning murder, rape, robbery, etc.—which ARE moral issues at the heart. And society has a responsibility to protect the innocent—the vulnerable, such as children— and MUST have laws to that end. Yet, we are all too painfully aware that such laws do NOT always accomplish their intended purpose.
BY ORGANIZED BOYCOTTS? The problem here is that such can be manipulated and sometimes create other problems as bad as the one they are intended to help. Also, sometimes such activities hurt the very ones they are meant to help.
BY PICKETING? This may have the effect of making people more aware of whatever evil they are designed to fight, which is good. But, their effect is limited—and can get out of hand and create other evils.
BY ADVERTISEMENTS? While such may make the general public aware of the Christian concern over the particular evil targeted by the ad, unfortunately it also serves to arouse the interest of some others who will be drawn to the evil you want to fight. Sinful human nature is like that
BY ELABORATE CAMPAIGNS OR RALLIES? Again, good has undeniably been accomplished by such tactics as “Moral Majority” and “Washington for Jesus.” But, we know that these kinds of activities have caused the forces of evil to organize and rally, too, in such movements as “People for the American Way” and the “American Atheist Society.” Unfortunately, these efforts are often better organized and financed than our Christian-oriented movements are. So, this approach may actually stir up evil forces and galvanize them into action.
I believe the most effective weapon with which to combat evil in our society as Christians is CHOICE—the opportunity and responsibility we have as Christians to choose good over evil. This is what we are called upon repeatedly in God’s Word to do, as is made clear in Joshua 24:14-24. The context is the renewal of the covenant between the 12 tribes of Israel and Yahweh at the conclusion of the period of conquest of Canaan and just prior to the death of Joshua. Joshua was deeply concerned that the pressures of pagan influence which would constantly surround them in this land would overwhelm them and they would forget their promises to God.
Joshua knew the Israelites would not be sheltered from all evil influences and temptations, any more than God’s people are today. He also understood that they were weak mortals, with a natural propensity toward sin—just as we are today. He knew that the only way they would make it was deliberately, willfully to choose good over evil in the land, and he knew that each of them, individually, had a CHOICE. Their human wills were not bound or forced to do evil.
This principle of choice is set before us repeatedly in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve were given a choice of obeying God’s restriction placed on their freedom, which would assure their continuing life in Eden, or of asserting their self-will and disobeying God. We know which they chose, and we KNOW the consequences.
In I Kings 18 we have the challenge of the old prophet, Elijah, to the people of Israel, who were repeatedly falling into idolatry, when he said; “How long will you go limping between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” In other words, you cannot have it both ways; you HAVE to choose.
In Matthew 6:24 (the Sermon on the Mount) Jesus said to His hearers: “No man can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other, You cannot serve both God and Mammon.”
In Philippians 4:8, 9 the Apostle Paul calls for a different kind of choice; but the principle is the same: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—THINK about such things [rather than the opposite]. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put into practice.”
Christians individually choosing good over evil will make a difference, where every other approach will fail. The most telling blow to Hollywood’s dirty, filthy productions is simply for Christians to buy no tickets. If every person in the world who considers themselves to be Christian refused to go see such movies, how long do you think Hollywood would continue to produce them? Polls in recent years have shown that as many as 70% of people in the U.S. consider themselves to be evangelicals. This is a mighty power for good, if only we will use it by exercising the choice we each have.
No one FORCES us to buy tickets and go to see the movies being shown in our theaters today, so full of explicit sex and violence, and so opposed to the moral and spiritual values of the Bible and the Christian faith. We have to CHOOSE to do so.
The same is true of television. No one is required to subscribe to HBO or to watch programs which are basically bad, even if they are available to us. It is our choice.
As parents, we can choose not to allow our children to watch questionable fare. We can push the “Off” button, or, if necessary, unplug the TV. What message do you think the advertisers who pay for this garbage would get if Christians would only do this?
The same principle can be applied to pornography and to abortion, and to many of the other evils of our day. It is UP TO US. If we don’t make choice a weapon against evil, it will be an enemy against the good we say we seek. William D. Hershey once said, “What you do when you don’t have to will determine what you will be when you can’t help it.”
God wants His people to STOP CONFORMING TO THE WORLD (Rom. 12:2) and to CHOOSE TO BE TRANSFORMED (Rom. 12:1). And His Holy Spirit does the work of transformation in our lives. If we will only choose God and good, then we have all the resources of heaven on our side to strengthen and guide us.
Then, let us hear and LISTEN TO God’s challenge: “Choose this day whom you will serve….”