A businessman buys a hot dog from a street vendor. When he sits on a nearby bench, he puts his hot dog down and begins rummaging through his briefcase to retrieve papers he wants to read. Out of nowhere, a small boy snatches his hot dog and runs off. The man takes off in pursuit. The boy runs to a woman seeking refuge.
The man says, “Excuse me, but your son stole my hot dog.”
Momma, looking down, sees the undeniable evidence in her son’s hands. “Timmy, taking something that is not yours is wrong, give that man back his hot dog and say, you’re sorry.”
The boy, looking down at the ground, reaches the hot dog up in the man’s general direction and mumbles something.
The mother adamantly apologizes to the man several times. He politely listens and tells her all is well.
As they start to depart, the man looks down at the boy and says, “Young man, I hope this teaches you that stealing is wrong.”
The boy looks up and says sharply, “Oh yeah! Who says?”
Interesting question – “Who says?”
The boy reluctantly obeyed his mother by giving back the hot dog. Still, he does not believe the businessman, or his mother has the authority to set his moral compass.
In all areas of life, there must be an authority. At school, we have homework because the teacher says so. At the workplace, the boss determines our tasks, the time we show up, how late we work, what we get paid, and many other things.
But who says we cannot steal a hot dog? Who says we cannot kill the businessman, then take his hot dog?
Our nation has forgotten God and, therefore, has ignored the ultimate authority. Without a supreme authority, all lesser authority begins to crumble.
When we examine the changes in our society over the last sixty years, many of them boil down to a shift in supreme authority from God to the individual.
In the 1960s, many high schools had marksmanship classes. Teenagers brought guns to school to use in class; some schools provided weapons. As late as the 1990s, many rural school parking lots were half-filled with pickup trucks. Half of those had gun racks in the windows, all filled with a shotgun or .22. Today, bringing a weapon anywhere close to a school ends up in jail time.
In the 1960s, God was the ultimate authority, and He said, “Thou shalt not kill.” Today, however, God is, at best, an afterthought in American life. With many people, God is never part of the equation. Self has become the ultimate authority. When self becomes the supreme authority in a society, some people will do the unacceptable. In the 1960s, a mass shooting was unthinkable, but now the consensus is that it is only a matter of time until the next one. A few people, when it comes to murder, will ask, “Who says?”
A more far-reaching example is sex. In the 1950s, divorce was taboo, and sex outside marriage was considered a sin, even by non-church-going people. God’s authority was weakened in the early sixties when we kicked the Bible and prayer out of schools. The late sixties brought the sexual revolution. Now, fifty-some years later, if sex has not occurred within the first few dates, something is wrong with the relationship. No longer considered is the opinion of the God that told us fornication is wrong. The selfish if-it-feels-good-do-it attitude reigns. One ultimate authority was replaced by another.
Evident in our nation’s new social norms is the switch of authority away from God to self.
God is the only giver of life. God gives physical life at conception, yet our nation believes a mother can end that God-given life for whatever purpose she sees fit.
God established marriage in the Garden of Eden between a man and a woman, but what God set is no longer considered in our definition of marriage.
God, the ultimate authority, created us, male and female. Our number of genders is now in the dozens.
Churches are also replacing God with feel-good emotions as the supreme authority.
Churches used to be places of salvation, redemption, sanctification, and a hospital for the soul. Now, many of them are nothing more than entertainment centers. As the authority of God weakens in the lives of Christians, our relationship with Him moves from loving, humble soul-changing to one of self-pleasing emotion and feelings.
How do we fix this? Put God back in charge.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com