When is, is ought, ought isn’t
Listening to Al Mohler’s podcast “the Briefing” the other day I was caught by a comment he made concerning the reasoning behind New Jersey’s resent passing of a law that made homosexual conversion therapy illegal in that state (conversion therapy is therapy that intends to help the homosexual leave that sinful lifestyle). It was not just that the State chose to make it illegal to try to help those caught up in the bondage of sin…that would have been horrific enough. But what compounds their sin and makes the decision even worse was how they got to the point of passing the law. A crude and fair summary of the Governor’s comments would go something like: “since there are homosexuals we must conclude that homosexuality is both normal and natural”, so, whatever is, is what ought to be and there is no “ought” or law that should determine right and wrong. So, instead of teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a fish, feeding him for a lifetime, New Jersey and her Governor have given men a philosophy that allows and encourages them to continue to normalize sin for a lifetime while protecting them from the intrusion of those who would help. This is not just about sodomy, this is about everything. The idea of an “ought” that comes from outside of man was overturned in their reasoning and The Lawgiver was rejected with men determining that whatever they do is right. Sounds a lot like Romans 1:18-27, but in the example cited above, man’s “god” or “lawgiver” is simply the desires of his own heart that allows him to exchange truth for a lie.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Gratefully, though men can pass laws making truth illegal they are not able to stop truth from accomplishing God’s purpose. So Paul does not leave us in Romans chapter one. As Romans continues to wind its way through the fall of man (1:18-3:20), ending with a clear reminder that no man can be saved by what he does, we finally find ourselves at 3:21 where hope is declared in the simple pronouncement that freedom from sin’s control, guilt, and judgment is found in the righteousness of Christ, that is ours by Faith in Christ.
So grieve with me over the decline of our culture and country as they embrace the ways of the antichrist but do not lose sight of the only hope we have ever had. Our hope is not and has never been in the princes of this world but in the Lord who made heaven and earth. And so continue, with me, to speak the gospel, not surprised that some will count it foolish and others will find it offensive. The gospel of Christ that Paul lays out in his letter to the Romans gives hope, for by this gospel we find our way to freedom from sin’s power (ch. 6), freedom from condemnation which we deserve (ch. 8) and the real conversion: “being transformed by the renewal of you mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (12:2).
Grieve over the wickedness of man but do not let that stop you from rejoicing and hoping in the power of the gospel which no man can hinder. Christ is King and His gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. (1:16). So, enjoy it and tell it.