The nation's first African-American president took the stage at last night's Democratic National Convention. He was then joined by the nation's first woman nominated by a major party for president. There was a time when neither would have seemed plausible. Just as it would have seemed implausible that the Republican Party would nominate a candidate with no previous political experience.
This is the promise of America: where we've been does not limit where we can go.
Today's New York Times reports that James Alan McPherson died yesterday at the age of seventy-two. He overcame segregation to graduate from Harvard Law School and became the first black winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Meanwhile, the "Ice Bucket Challenge" is credited with raising $115 million for ALS research, helping fund the discovery of a gene tied to the disease.
But good news is not the only news in today's news.
Christianity Today is reporting on the devastation of pornography in our culture. Studies have linked it to depression and higher drug and alcohol consumption. Boys who view pornography are less likely to form healthy relationships. Yet only half of US adults and one-third of teens and young adults consider pornography to be wrong.
NPR reports that Americans are overdosing on heroin and prescribed painkillers at epidemic rates, their number quadrupling from 1999 to 2014. According to Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who believe that churches contribute to solving social problems is at its lowest point in the history of the survey.
How can God's people demonstrate the relevance of God's word to our culture?
David enjoined us to "turn away from evil and do good" (Psalm 34:14). It is not enough for God's people to refuse evil—we must work to replace it with that which is righteous and good.
Moral obedience is vital for the health of our souls. As Oswald Chambers noted, "No one ever receives a word from God without instantly being put to the test regarding it. We disobey and then wonder why we are not growing spiritually." Obedience positions us to receive the power and provision our Father intends for us.
Moral obedience is equally vital for the health of our nation. Historian Bill Federer cites several leaders who have acknowledged this fact. For instance, President Dwight Eisenhower stated in 1951, "Without a firm moral foundation, freedom degenerates quickly into selfishness and license. Unless men exercise their freedom in a just and honest way, within moral restraints, a free society can degenerate into anarchy."
General Douglas MacArthur warned later that year, "History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster."
In 1968, historians Will and Ariel Durant noted, "The greatest question of our time is not Communism versus individualism, not even East versus West; it is whether man can live without God."
The answer to that question becomes clearer every day.
NOTE: Nick Pitts, our Director of Cultural Engagement, is reporting this week from the Democratic National Convention. For more, see our Facebook page.
Publication date: July 28, 2016
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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