If you read Putin's speech on the annexation of Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia and sensed that we, in the West, should have a new level of concern, you are spot on. While there were many levels of provocation in the speech, with ongoing threats of the use of nuclear weaponry being at the top, there was one positioning of Putin that should give us pause: his attack on Western morals. Gone are the Cold War days when rambling Communist diatribes focused on Western greed, a relatively innocuous charge. In this speech, Vladimir Putin cited the degrading trends of abhorrent sexuality, including sex-change surgery on children, and the Western cultural indoctrination of its citizens into accepting the normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism as examples of Western weakness and degeneration. On this point, Putin's comments on Western culture are viscerally disconcerting because of at least three troubling truths.
First, having a veritable dictator and former Soviet KGB operative pointing out another's sins is hypocritical at best and diabolical at worst. Mr. Putin lamented the collapse of a regime, the Soviet Union. However, that Communist state was responsible for the murder of millions of people in the twentieth century, many of them Christians and Jews. Mr. Putin extolled the virtues of Russian Orthodox Christian theology. Yet, there is little evidence of such Christian virtue in Mr. Putin's ruthless war against his neighbors or threats of nuclear war. Thus, his ability to compellingly call out the cultural sins of the West showed remarkable rhetorical skill. Nevertheless, his comments disturbed Christian readers in the West because we know he is now deploying a deadly weapon of war: the demoralization of one's adversary. This fact leads to the second troubling truth.
The moral high ground is a vital strategic variable in both "cold" and "hot" wars. That belligerent who can call upon (primarily) young men to fight and give their lives to defend God and Country (i.e., a cause greater than themselves) takes the battlefield with a decidedly superior position. Putin played the moral high ground angle with cunning. The Russian dictator used our increasingly foolish denial of reality concerning human sexuality (e.g., Romans 1:18-32) as a new weapon against us. It is a mockery of the highest order when a despot mercilessly attacks women, children, and the aged while critiquing the social ills of other countries. Yet, it is equally concerning that the despot cited a cultural and moral crisis of the West with indefensible accuracy. Putin recognizes that the Western fixation with a postmodern deconstruction of Judeo-Christian values in the family and sexuality (and the internal national schism such absurdity provokes) is a weakness to be exploited. We should make no mistake. Putin's target on the Western moral decline was calculated for maximum strategic effect. Those of us who recognize the increasing human degradation that accompanies and ultimately destroys those who disregard God and His law, "written on our hearts" (Romans 2:14-15), are justified in our grave concern.
God is long-suffering. His nature is one of love and mercy. Yet, His Word is indivisible. We disobey Him to our certain devastation. We can turn to God in repentance and faith. Now is the time to pray for an outpouring of the Spirit of revival in Christian communities throughout the West. Today is the day for believers, and pastors, in particular, to speak the truth to our generation: If you deny the reality of God, you will soon deny reality. Your illogical denial fuels base desires that ultimately bring about a self-inflicting judicial hardening to God and His word. Such a downward spiral always terminates in self-destruction. The strongest and most noble civilization cannot withstand the effect of mass unbelief and the moral decline that accompanies it. Our enemies will show no mercy in revealing and exploiting this weakness. How much better to hear and follow the voice of Scripture and recover the moral high ground:
"Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Joshua 22:5 ESV).
"Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21 ESV).
We must recover our moral high ground through Christ or expect the removal of all our ground by enemies eager to seize it.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Matthew Stockman/Staff
Michael A. Milton (PhD, Wales) is a long-time Presbyterian minister (PCA) and a regular contributor to Salem Web Network. In addition to founding three churches, and the call as Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, Dr. Milton is a retired Army Chaplain (Colonel). He is the recipient of the Legion of Merit. Milton has also served as chancellor and president of seminaries and is the author of more than thirty books. He has composed and performed original music for five albums. He and his wife, Mae, reside in Western North Carolina. His most recent book is a second edition release: Hit by Friendly Fire: What to do when Another Believer Hurts You (Resource Publications, 2022). To learn more visit and subscribe: https://michaelmilton.org/about/.