Harry Reeder on sexual reckoning: Our conscience tells us ‘something’s wrong here’ even while our culture promotes sin
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Listen to the 10 min audio
Read the transcript:
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I’d like to take you to a number of stories today. I’m going to highlight it with a story out of The Washington Examiner.
Of course, our listeners are probably, no doubt, familiar with the situation with Roy Moore down in Alabama and the accusations about him dating underage girls. Now we have Al Franken in the news and his situation, groping an individual on a Middle East USO Tour for our military.
Now, The Washington Examiner is reporting an individual by the name of Bill O’Neil, who is an Ohio Supreme Court justice and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and last weekend he came out on Facebook and said, “Hey, I’m going to save my political opposition some research time. I’m just going to go ahead and tell you that I’ve had illicit affairs with over 50 beautiful women.” There was a lot of pushback and he offered an apology.
The odd thing about this is an individual would have been ashamed about this behavior just a few years ago, but now we have a gubernatorial candidate that, in a sense, he’s bragging about it.
DR. REEDER: Tom, this cascade – what did one commentator say – it’s raining evil men in the culture who are doing these things, but the fact is there’s clearly this bubbling up – almost shouting out, now – sexual orgy cultural behavior patterns that all of us feel a right revulsion to.
From a Biblical world and life view, I want to point out three things.
It is very clear that, while this is throughout the culture, notice where all of these reports are coming from: They’re coming from the seats of political power in our governments, state and federal. And the second arena from which they’re coming is the entertainment celebrity culture.
Our forebears understood this from their Christian world and life view: Those positions have power and prominence and prestige.
And, whenever you begin to accumulate power and prominence and prestige and you do not put in a structure in your life to hold you accountable and to keep your life transparent, the power, the money, the prestige and the prominence begins to almost numb your brain to sensibilities and you begin to think whatever you want, you deserve. Your appetites can be gratified in any way you want them to be gratified.
Therefore, we’re in a culture where the powerful and the prominent have been running rampant with a thinly veiled façade over the top of their behavior and now it is coming out.
Secondly, we are in a culture that has fostered that. Recently, Hugh Hefner died and all of the accolades came out. Well, what is the “Hefner Playboy Culture?” One of self-gratification and self-absorption and a predominant attention is given to gratification of one’s sexual desires with the result that women are objectified, marital boundaries are erased and sexual ethics are destroyed.
We then embrace, in the name of self-gratification, the “Hefner Playboy Culture,” now we’re getting the results of it. Back during the Clinton episode and the Monica Lewinsky affair in the Oval Office and the things that took place, instead of dealing with them and addressing them for what they were, we absorbed them into the culture, making certain practices the norm in the culture and certain considerations that the prominent and the powerful get a wink and a nod.
That’s even been built into the culture of our Senate and they do not actually exist under the same consequences of sexual harassment laws that the rest of the population – they have their own set – and they even have an ability to pay off any settlements using taxpayer money so they have no personal liabilities in those areas.
Here is the celebrity culture of Hollywood, here is the powerful culture of government and it is no accident that that acts almost like an anesthesia and a stimulant at one and the same time for behavior like this because there is no salt and light being spoken to it with clarity.
The prophetic ministry of the people of God and the lifestyle of the people of God, instead of standing distinct and calling people to a way of life that honors what God has created to be sacred, such as sexuality within the bounds of marriage and marriage, itself, as sacred, the church has lost its voice and has lost its impact.
The third thing I want to mention, the only ethic our culture now embraces concerning sexual behavior is the ethic of consent and that is erased very easily.
The reason this is bothering everybody is that, in our God-given conscience, even though our conscience is not an infallible guide – God’s word is an infallible guide – but our conscience tells us something’s wrong here.
Romans 1 describes the pagan lifestyle of sexual immorality, sexual perversion and social approval of it and then it makes the comment, “Even though they do these things,” – they know the sinfulness of these things – “and the work of the law is written on their hearts.”
In other words, the Ten Commandments and all of their sanctities – the sanctity of God, the sanctity of worship, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of work, the sanctity of sex– all of those are covered in the Ten Commandments – and the work of that, the ethics of God’s law, deep down inside, we know that that is what is right and what we’re doing is wrong.
Therefore, what you’re seeing is a culture now in revulsion against the very thing that promotes it. And there’s a revulsion, why? The revulsion is there because the work of the law is upon our heart and we know this is not right. There’s something wrong here, but it’s not only wrong because of its effect upon the victims, it’s wrong because it’s wrong.
Because it’s wrong, it will have deleterious effects, it will bring destruction to the culture and it will bring a sense of vileness and a feeling of filth that just pervades everything. And, inside, our conscience is saying, “This isn’t right,” but, at the same time, in our rebellion against God, we promote it and the powerful and the prominent, they have the avenue to do what they want whenever they want it with a thinly veiled cover over top of it.
And then, when this erupts out of it, we know it’s wrong, and we know why it’s there and we know that there’s really only one answer and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Victims can be reclaimed, violators can be brought to repentance and a Savior can save us not only from the penalty of our sins, but the power and the practice of our sins.
We have to keep speaking prophetically into the public square. We have to keep promoting that which is good and right for public policy if we love our neighbors.
I am being propelled back to the Great Commission of making disciples and of evangelizing and discipling so that men and women of God know how to speak truth into the culture and, more importantly, will embrace truth in their life so there’s something different about them.
And, because of that difference, they become salt and light and this evil becomes restrained and the antidote to evil, which is the power and the grace of God in Christ, is proclaimed.
Tom Lamprecht: Harry, you’ve laid out an accurate sequence of how we’ve had this cascading, as you’ve said, of the sexual sin. Can we see a cascading of righteousness?
DR. REEDER: To use the cascade metaphor, then we just desperately need a Heaven-sent revival. If that happens, what you will then see – can I use another metaphor – you’ll see an artisan well.
You know, Tom, when you and I get together in Greenville and do some taping, we slip over to the golf course. When I had my dreams of golf at East Carolina, we would play that golf course, and I think it’s the 14th hole is that artisan well that just keeps bubbling up, and we would drink from it and how refreshing it was. Now, 40 years later, I go there and, instead of that water bubbling up and running off, they have captured it and now there is a beautiful lake that just keeps getting filled with this artisan water.
And that’s what I’d like to see in my country and throughout the whole world, is the cascading down of the rain captured into the hearts of the church of Jesus Christ bubbling up and filling the world with the truth.
Tom, I love a passage in Acts Chapter 5 when Peter and John are arrested and the charge is this: “You have filled all of Jerusalem with this Gospel of Jesus Christ.” That’s what I would love to happen again with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.