Jesus taught, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” To thirst for righteousness is the desire to live a life that is holy, to be known as someone who does what is right and good in the eyes of God and men. It is to desire to live above the rest in moral decency, in humbleness and humility, in modeling Christ. It is to live in such a manner that anyone who would try to accuse you of false doing could find nothing wrong, and should they level a charge against you, they would be ashamed when the matter was fully investigated. It is the thought that you want your good works to shine so that when men see them, they will glorify God. It is to strive for doing good today, and more good tomorrow, and even more the next day.
Unfortunately, those who pursue pleasure as an end have to experience greater pleasure the next day. Those who pursue the adrenaline rush from thrill seeking have a need for greater thrill the next day. Those who pursue wealth, have to get more the next day. Those who pursue power want more the next. Those who pursue fame, seek even greater notoriety. Those who pursue sex have to have it a little more thrilling, even a little more perverted the next day.
The desire for worldly pleasures will lead people and (as their actions become more accepted by those around them) their societies down a path of debased and irrational thinking and behavior. Someone is always pushing the limits of what is morally allowed to make a name for themselves, which in turn establishes a new moral (or maybe I should say, “less moral”) boundary, which in turn leads to that boundary being pushed, a new one formed, and that one is pushed, and the cycle spirals downward.
In the 1960’s there was great concern that Mary Ann’s (on Gilligan’s Island) and Jeannie’s (on I Dream of Jeannie) belly buttons didn’t show. Costumers were constantly adjusting Eva Gabor’s bustline on Green Acres to ensure too much of her cleavage wasn’t showing. Needless to say, the sexual envelope was pushed. Today, many forms of nudity are broadcast on prime time television and there are cable networks devoted to pornography.
Where will this sexual spiral lead? Europe has pushed the envelope for many years before it began being pushed in the U.S. Television in Europe has freely displayed nudity for years. I can remember being stunned while watching a German television station in a restaurant in Europe as the station paused for an advertisement break. Suddenly, a group of naked women ran through the screen in the commercial. Nudity is not limited to television. Nude and topless beaches, sex and erotic art museums, and legal brothels are common place in Europe. But it doesn’t stop there. They also have animal prostitution at barnyard brothels and erotic zoos. That’s right. This is a place where customers can go to pay for sex with animals. And it gets worse. The news reported that a woman’s dog was stolen and when recovered, vets determined the dog had been gang raped by the thieves.
In the U.S., our television shows are more centered on violence than nudity. Unfortunately, violence is common place here. For the most part, violence has normally been restricted between those with some sort of tie – family disputes, mob violence, and work place issues. Now, it has grown beyond that. Innocent people in schools and malls are now the targets of those pursuing some kind of fame. Just as troubling, is the game of “knockout,” where for fun teens approach a random, unsuspecting person and see if they can knock him or her out with one punch.
Drug use is out of control as well. From the marijuana and LSD of the sixties to today’s bath salts, where users are known to strip naked and cannibalize another human. There is always some chemist somewhere developing a new synthetic drug to entice users.
Religion is also going down strange paths. In the last 40 years, we have gone from the Jesus Movement of the seventies and eighties to the scandals of nationally televised personalities and mega-church pastors. The depravity of man and his sin nature, though openly in view all around us, is no longer mentioned from the pulpit in many churches. The health-and-wealth-doctrine churches have multiplied. Cults led by men professing to be Christ or the antichrist are in the news and there is a church that protests at the funerals of military personnel and other high publicity funeral opportunities. Satanic churches advertise on the internet, there is a push for atheist churches and even the Pastafarian church has a member who has been allowed to take his driver’s license photo with a pasta strainer on his head. Then, there was the Democratic national convention in which God was originally removed from the party’s platform and was booed when a vote was take to reinstate Him.
It is difficult to turn the tide of a society that is bent on pursuing immoral activities, but for the Christian, the battle is fought by a commitment to oneself to be holy. So, we should follow the advice of the Apostle Peter that he wrote in his first epistle:
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For he who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.