Summary: This is the third of three sermons preached for the series "Reality Room." Using reality TV has a hook to talk about real issues, not contrived or assisted TV scenarios.
“CONVICTION IN A TOLERANT WORLD”
INTRODUCTION TO SERMON:
Wow! Good people, people who care for each other but with very different stances on a very tough situation. Which one’s right? Did you hear Angie’s significant other address the core problem here: He said: “There’s not a right or wrong about this, just what we know, what we’ve been taught.” Angie’s Dad replies, “That’s where we’re different. There is a right and wrong to this in my book.” You see the real problem in that drama was not Angie’s unmarried state or how her Dad felt about it. The core problem was how they came to understand right from wrong.
Friends, I know you sense it. The folks in our drama sensed it. Our world is shifting in its moral stance. In fact, I believe careful inspection shows that there has been a shifting of our culture in this area of right and wrong that has been almost cataclysmic in the last 40-50 years. I know this will date me, but I can remember the Emmy-award winning TV comedy called “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” I know, I know.. Most of you are not old enough to remember watching it when it was actually broadcast but you may have seen it on Nick at Night. It was a funny show, still is, but in that show, which was in the 60’s, it always had Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, who was his wife, Laura, sleeping in twin beds. Because our culture then, when a show was on TV wouldn’t even show a married couple in bed together. And nowadays the Emmy award goes to shows like HBO’s “Sex in the City,” or ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” where several people might end up in a twin bed! And this shift is not just in the area of sex. Not so long ago we had rulings by our various courts on such things as whether the pledge of allegiance should be said in our classrooms because it contains the phrase: “one nation, under God”and refusal to give a person, who had no direct say, life support. Movies that used to only contain vulgar profanity if they were rated “R” are now using the “F bomb” in some PG-13 films. Yes, there has been a shift in our culture.
Well, this morning as we close our series in our “Reality Room” let’s tackle this very real and often confusing topic.. “Conviction in a Tolerant World.” How do we determine what is right and what is wrong? If I am a person of conviction, what do I base that conviction on and how do I express it? I know there is a risk here today with this topic. It will not necessarily be popular but since it has much of our culture confused and since the Bible does address the issue, let’s dig in.
I. CONFRONTING CONVICTION CONFUSION:
Let’s begin by asking a basic question. What do we base our conviction on? In other words, if there is right and wrong, how do I figure out what it is? You know every once in a while I’ll hear something in a motion picture that addresses this issue. (VIDEO CLIP - “Something’s Gotta Give” Ch. 21 - 1:22:02 - 1:23:42 - 1:40)
Do you agree with Diane Keaton’s character? That there is such a thing as truth, and it doesn’t have versions? Can we get our bearings on absolutes or are we just adrift upon a sea of relative uncertainty? We saw in our opening “man on the street” video that our culture has many ideas how to determine right from wrong. In fact, according to researcher George Barna, 72% of Americans don’t believe in such a thing as absolute truth. So, let’s look at some answers to the question, “How do you determine what is true?” and discuss their legitimacy for a moment.
(1) Many in our culture would say that truth is a changing concept. Relativism is a predominant belief in our culture today. Relativism says that truth is determined by referencing it to something else, like your circumstances, or what someone else has taught you, etc. Isn’t that what our young man said in the drama? There’s not a right or wrong about this, just what we know, what we’ve been taught. But does that reasoning really provide stability? Let me ask you. (raise your hands) “Have you ever discovered that your parents were wrong about something?”A little closer to home: (Don’t have to raise your hands) Parents, have you ever been wrong about something? Do we really want to make important, even life or death decisions based on “My Mamma says..?”or a different value judgment based on different circumstances? Relativism has no stable standard.
Others will say we determine truth by majority vote. Yeah, that sounds good. We’ll vote on it and if the majority says it’s true then it’s true. Think about that reasoning for a second. How many of you, if we all took a vote on the Law of Gravity and the majority said it didn’t exist, would jump off a 10 story building? Or if we all decided that the majority of people in the Springs prefer that our climate be tropical in February… would that make it so? Remember, the majority in WWII Germany thought they were right. We can’t determine truth on majority rule.