Summary: Though true that sin is "out there, it's just as true that sin is "in here."
Defining Deviancy Down
March 18, 2012
In 1993, a Democratic senator from New York wrote an essay for a educational journal. In this article, Daniel Moynihan argued that:
“the amount of deviant behavior in American society has increased beyond levels the community can afford…and that society has been redefining deviancy to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, and accepting as normal behavior that was considered abnormal by earlier standards.”
The phrase that he used to describe this phenomena is “defining deviancy down.” I don’t think it’s very often we can legitimately call a statement by any politician prophetic, but this one was, in a very biblical sense, or at the very least it was a clear observation of human nature.
Let’s be thinking of this phrase coined by Senator Moynihan as we read from Romans 1:18-32, our text for this morning.
Romans 1:18-32 (ESV) 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
You might be thinking, gee, didn’t Jim preach on God’s wrath last week? Well, that’s only part of what we’ll be looking at today, but consider this more of a continuation of a similar thread, following up on some themes Jim touched on in last week’s excellent message.