Marlys and I have had the privilege of spending the better part of the past six days driving down to Carrollton, Texas and spending some time with Greg and Beth and Ethan and Max. It certainly was a hot time down in Texas; guess it is still summer time there. We enjoyed seeing both our grandsons run cross-country. Not sure why anyone would want to run over 3 miles in 90 degree heat. Also got to see Max in a baseball game - he has come a long way in his baseball playing abilities. And also got to attend a high school pep assembly - I forgot how loud those could be. And, of course, we ate a lot of Tex-Mex - couldn't be in Texas without that. Now we are back into the coolness of the fall season here in Minnesota. The trees are beginning to show some vibrant shades of reds, oranges, and yellows. Landscapes are shrouded with the colors of fallen leaves, and bright orange pumpkins grace many a front porch. It truly is a wonderful time to be in Minnesota.
A lot has happened since I last wrote to you. A lone gunman, sequestered in a 32nd floor hotel room, suddenly breaks windows and begins shooting down on a crowd of people who had gathered in a park below to share in a country-music festival. Stephen Paddock fired hundreds of rounds, killing 58 innocent people and wounding over 500 others. It was the largest mass shooting in American history. We may never know exactly what prompted him to commit such a heinous crime, but this shooting has once again revived the calls for stricter gun controls. There have even been a few voices that have demanded the repeal of the Second Amendment which protects a citizen's right to have and to bear arms. It is almost as if these people actually believe that guns are the problems. Friends, there are more people killed via automobiles each year than via all types of weapons combined, and yet I have never heard anyone champion stricter controls on who can drive a car. The problem exhibited in Las Vegas is more serious than just a matter of controlling guns.
Then this past weekend multiple allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault were brought against one of the most powerful men in Hollywood - Mr. Harvey Weinstein. And, since that story first broke, others have begun to share their stories. This was not a once or twice moral failure, but a repeated culture of moral failure on the part of Mr. Weinstein. And, because he wielded a lot of power that could make or break a young aspiring actress or actor, and because he had a lot of money, Mr. Weinstein's immoral behavior was never questioned in public. The silence of many allowed for this culture to continue, almost as if it was approved. But there is a deeper problem in Hollywood than just Harvey Weinstein.
This past Monday was Columbus Day - a day commemorating the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Although Columbus was considered a hero when I was a student in school (of course that was 60 years ago), today Columbus is considered to be a monstrous villain. The genocide of the Native Americans is laid at his feet. The enslavement of minority people is laid at his feet. And so there is a "mad" rush - and I do mean that it is a rush toward insanity - to destroy every vestige of Columbus that remains today. Statues were assaulted with red paint, at best, or totally destroyed, at worst. But there is a deeper problem than just statues of Columbus in the United States.
What is this deeper problem? To put it very bluntly: It is the consequence of the abandonment of moral clarity based upon absolute truth. When absolute truth is cast aside, then moral relativism reigns. To put it very succinctly, when absolute moral truth is absent, then there is no measuring rod by which to measure another person' actions or attitudes. So, Mr. Paddock can shoot dozens of innocent people because for him there is no absolute moral truth. So, people can desecrate public statues of Christopher Columbus because they have no absolute moral truth. And Mr. Weinstein can impose his will upon vulnerable young actresses because he has no absolute moral truth. To be perfectly honest with you, I am very surprised by the outcry against Mr. Weinstein, for, after all, he is one of "them." He could most assuredly wear the title of "Mr. Left." Yet I applaud those women who came forward to expose Mr. Weinstein for the immoral creep that he was.
But, here is where it gets very interesting. Suppose I were to ask Ashley Judd, for example, why she believed the actions of Mr. Weinstein were wrong. What would be her response? Now, she would have to be very careful with that response. She might say, "Well that type of behavior is very demeaning toward women." And my response would be, "Why is that behavior so demeaning toward women?" She might hesitate and say, "Well, it is just wrong!" And, again I would ask, "How do you know it is just wrong?" You see, what those on the Left refuse to state is that something is wrong because there is an objective standard of right and wrong that necessarily demands that there be an absolute truth with a foundation firmly planted in God. But the Left cannot just come out and say that for that statement destroys the very foundation upon which they have built their belief structure.
I have been teaching a class on Apologetics this fall here at our church. I have nearly 40 students in two sections. Over the past several months I have had the privilege of reading and studying about those questions the skeptics and agnostics ask concerning the Christian faith. And one of the things I have discovered is that deep down in their hearts, skeptics and agnostics recognize that there is a moral reality. Just try to break into the home of an agnostic and they will have you arrested as a burglar. With that very action they have affirmed that there is a moral reality. But you won't hear them talk about this or trumpet moral reality before the television cameras. Why is that? Because moral reality forces us to ask the question, "What is the foundation for that moral reality?" And, of course, you and I know it as abiding in the person of a holy, righteous, loving, and just God.
Friends, great are the depths to which the human heart can fall when all restraint is cast off. The prophet Jeremiah expressed that thought with these words, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). "But for the grace of God..." What powerful words! God could have changed Stephen Paddock's life. God can still change Harvey Weinstein's life. God can change your life as you acknowledge Jesus as Truth.