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Change:  Stand In the River or Go With the Flow?

Mark Twain once said, "The only person who likes change is a wet baby." I'm not sure that was true even in Twain's time (born 1835, died 1910). But it's definitely not true today. In the past 50 years we've gone from eight-party telephone lines to wireless smart-phones that allow you to talk, text, watch TV and/or movies, download music, connect to the internet, and more. From medicine to the military to marriage and moral values, the undeniable fact is America and the world are smack dab in the midst of historic and accelerated change. It's enough to make your head swim. And, if not careful, it may cause you to lose your footing, at least morally and spiritually. The past fifty years in America have seen a sea-change in public moral beliefs and practices. Abortion (which still always stops a beating human heart) has gone from being a punishable crime to a personal "choice" and a constitutionally protected "right." Homosexuality is out and getting louder and prouder, and its proponents are bent on seeing to it that "same-sex marriage" will gain legal social acceptance and legal protection. (Will it some day be categorized as a "hate-crime" to preach and teach against homosexual practices and call them sin, as the Bible clearly does?) Talk about change. While the homosexual community clamors for the right to marry, heterosexual couples in record-breaking numbers refuse marriage and just "live together." What used to be popularly referred to as "living in sin" has now been baptized and sanitized in the language of change and is referred to as "cohabitation." Another troubling change is the collapse of a code of decency in public dress, speech, entertainment, etc. TV is a wonderful tool capable of tremendous public good, but "TV" these days could mean "trashy values." My point is not to suggest America was ever some kind of moral paradise where nobody ever did wrong. Sin is as old as Adam and Eve. My point is that along with the explosive rate of change in technology, communication and medicine (much of which has been for the better), the pace of moral change in our culture has been dizzying and definitely for the worse. As a culture we educate minds but not morals, and so we are getting smarter but not better.

A pre-Socratic philosopher named Heraclitus believed change was central to the universe and that "everything is in a flux," like the constant flow of a river. He famously said, "You cannot step twice into the same river." Because the river flows, it changes constantly. But the question for the church is not is the river changing. The question for the church is will we keep our moral and spiritual footing as the world goes on changing, or will we be swept along with the current? Hebrews 13:8 reminds us God's moral and spiritual truth never changes — "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." We can't stop the river of moral change swirling and flowing around us. But Christians can and must continue to stand for what is right. William Penn said early in America's history, "Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it." As it relates to moral changes in America that are sinful and wrong, are you swimming against the current or just going with the flow?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ