One of the latest trends in popular culture is the belief that God is so loving, understanding and wonderful that as long as you acknowledge His divine existence you can live your life however you want because it is what you want. After all, no loving God would disagree with a lifestyle that makes you happy. Many will even roll eyes at the people who try to point out commandments in the Bible, arguing that it is old fashioned and that those laws do not apply to us today, or further, to state that the Bible itself is not as inspired as we were led to believe because it contains things in it that, by today’s standards, seem absurd or contrary to modern modes of thinking.
This ideology seems to appeal to the younger generation the most. It makes sense that it would because teens and young adults tend to carry more of a “lets break all the rules” attitude. Life is one big party when you are young, and when you are in the middle of a party, who wants to be told they are doing anything wrong? Many young people love the idea of fun without consequence, so saying there are consequences, especially long-term spiritual consequences, is a total buzz kill. It makes people upset, uncomfortable, and defensive.
I am not saying every young person is this way, nor am I suggesting that the older generation is completely exempt from this faulty line of thinking. I know plenty of people in their forties, fifties, and up who cling to a favorite sin with the mentality of “I already confessed to God. He understands my weakness, so it doesn’t matter what I do because I am already saved.”
I am also not a complete angel. I remember getting annoyed at my parents when they would call me out for breaking family rules, or for pointing out the times I was facing consequences for decisions that I did not like. “When you dance all night, you have to pay the fiddler,” was a saying I heard often, along with various scriptures that were repeated so often I had them memorized by the time I was eight. When I moved out of the house at eighteen, they were so deeply engraved into my head, not even a jack hammer could chisel them out of my memory. I hated it…
Then I left for college and started living the way I wanted. I didn’t go completely crazy. It was not in me to go off the deep end, but I started doing all the little things I was not allowed to while I was at home. At first, I was thrilled because I felt free. No one was standing over my shoulder telling me not to do it. No one was telling me I was wrong. The best part was, it did not seem like I had to face any consequences for my choices… or so I thought. Things have a way of catching up to you eventually, which I found out the hard way.
I am embarrassed by some of the poor decisions I made. Really embarrassed. Because of my poor decision making, I wasted two full semesters in college. My grades fell. I had to transfer schools. I am still facing long-term consequences for what I did, and in some cases, did not do. In other words, I learned the hard way that God set laws for good reasons. Most of those reasons have to do with our long-term happiness here on earth, but I believe there are consequences that we do not fully understand that we will have to face when we die and come before the judgment seat of God.
I understand the appeal of a belief that God does not care about what you do. I really do. I was there, perhaps not to the degree that some take it, but I was all for it nonetheless. I am blessed that God was patient enough to show me how wrong that line of thinking is, and that I was at least smart enough to let Him help me change my life around. He truly is merciful, and loving, and understanding. God’s understanding is so perfect that He gives mankind laws to live by that guard us against the anguish that comes from poor decision making. He truly cares what happens to us, which is why he gives us scripture, and parents, and church leaders to guide us so we don’t have to suffer. As if that was not enough, he sent a Savior to rescue us when we fall. He gives us hope for a better life and guides us on our way.
If I could have any wish granted in this world, it would be that the limited understanding I have come to would be given to every person who struggles with the idea that not every idea of what they want to be good or right, is good or right, and that the consequences for their choices will come. Old fashioned ideas of black and white, right and wrong exist for a reason. They have survived thousands of years, and I believe despite the trends and tendencies of people, they will continue to last through millennia because they are true. Nothing anyone says or does will change that.
The question is: Will we recognize it soon enough to allow God to save us from destroying ourselves?