When Money Trumps Morality

The past couple of weeks there has been a news story making its way through the media regarding an unemployed German woman. The woman evidently lost her job and went on government unemployment. In the course of her unemployment, job office contacted her and said something was available; it wasn’t the kind of job she was expecting. In fact, she was told by the unemployment office that if she didn’t accept this job that her unemployment benefits would be terminated.

“Standard policy” you may think? Well, it’s not every day that an unemployment office tells you to become a prostitute or lose your benefits. That’s right, the job that had become available was with a German brothel and the government expected this woman to prostitute herself or lose her unemployment benefits. After all, a job is a job, right?
What happened here?

You may be wondering, how did something like this happen? Well, two years ago, the German government declared prostitution legal. In so doing, they required brothels to provide health insurance and pay taxes. In return, the brothels gain access to the government’s roles of the unemployed. When some questioned the morality of the matter, one lawyer stated that since prostitution has been legalized it is no longer immoral.

The fact of the matter is that in this situation money has been allowed to define morality. What was the rationalization for legalizing prostitution? Likely it was to reduce state health care costs and to levy taxes�money. And what was the result of said legalization? Prostitution is no longer considered immoral by the government. So now, the people come under the tyranny of the government’s definition of morality.

Where do we begin?

There are several things wrong with this. First, Germany has already once tried to redefine morality in order to accommodate their government. Does anyone remember Hitler and a little thing called genocide? The defense of those who followed his rule was that they were only doing what they were ordered to do and that after all, morality is subjective to the culture in which we live; each country defines morality in their own way. That was the defense, of course, until the prosecuting attorney’s at the Nuremburg trials argued that morality was beyond the provincial and the transient and that it didn’t matter what the laws of the country were in which you lived, some things were wrong for everyone simply because they were wrong. Has Germany learned that lesson or not? Evidently not. The Bible teaches that God is always the standard for what is right and wrong; for what is moral and immoral (Proverbs 3:5, 6, Jeremiah 10:23, 24).

Second, legalization of something that is immoral doesn’t make it moral. We have been arguing this point for years in the United States in reference to the question of abortion. Just because it is legal to get an abortion doesn’t mean that it is moral. Smoking may be legal, but that doesn’t mean that it is moral. Drinking may be legal, but that doesn’t mean it is moral. Cursing may be legal, but that doesn’t mean that it is moral. Public nudity may be legal (it is in some places) but that doesn’t mean that it is moral. Whether something is legal or not has absolutely no bearing upon the question of its morality. The Bible says that the purpose of government is to uphold that which is good and punish that which is wrong (1 Peter 2:14). This means that the government must first know what is and what isn’t moral and then act accordingly.

Third, don’t individuals have a fundamental right to personal morals? That is, one job is not just as good as another if a person has a moral objection to such a job. Shouldn’t governments be obligated to respect an individual’s moral beliefs instead of penalize them? Evidently, the German government doesn’t believe in personal morals. The Bible teaches that even in the face of overwhelming adversity, we are not to follow a multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2). Governments ought not to require individuals to so do.

Finally, money ought never to be used as a justification to do that which is immoral. We have placed too much value upon money today when it comes to matters of morality. We’ve recently seen multiple business leaders face criminal trials due to their unethical handling of financial matters in their companies. The message that is portrayed is that if you can avoid getting caught it is worthwhile to make money unethically and immorally. Business leaders often pressure their subordinates to do things that are questionably ethical upon penalty of losing their jobs. Truth is no longer the driving force for that which is moral, but money. The Bible teaches that money, far from being the valuable thing that most consider it to be, is not to be loved (Hebrews 13:3) and that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

Benjamin Franklin is known to have said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” Indeed, it is not freedom that defines virtue, but virtue that defines freedom. It takes a virtuous people to understand that money doesn’t trump morality. But when governments and institutions make laws and rules that vacate morality for the case of money, the people suffer. And when the people suffer, liberty is lost. The only true freedom comes through knowing, loving, and living the truth (John 8:32).

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The End is Nearer than We May Think

Ok folks, clear your calendars because a very important event is coming up for which you are going to want to be prepared. I’m not talking about Easter, Labor Day, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving or even Christmas. No, it’s nobody’s birthday either. However, I think you are going to want to be ready for this one because an event like this only occurs once every thousand years or so. Oh, you want to know what’s going to happen that day? Scientists estimate that on that day, a meteor about 1/3 of a mile in diameter will come close enough to earth so that you can see it passing by overhead in the sky. It will not, however, collide with the earth (they think), but pass the earth about 22,500 miles away (still a near miss). So mark you calendars for Friday, April 13th, 2029 because that’s the big day!

“Wait a minute!” you say, “That’s twenty-four years in the future. Why should I get all worked up over that now?” Good question. Some may even be thinking “I don’t even know that I will be alive on that day,” indeed, some of us will not. Some of us may die of natural causes and others of us may die due to disease or accidents of one kind or another. It kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? All of a sudden the possibility of a meteor hitting the earth in 2029 doesn’t seem nearly as urgent when we consider that we may not even be around to see it pass. Indeed, we just do not know when our last day on earth will be.

Believe it or not, this has been man’s condition for many years. James wrote regarding this very topic almost 2000 years ago. James 4:13-15 states, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” James makes it clear that tomorrow is not promised because our lives are fleeting. The appropriate attitude that we ought to have toward the future is “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Notice that little phrase that we normally skip over when we look at this passage; “we shall live.” James wasn’t so much concerned about saying “If the Lord wills, we shall do one thing or another” as much as he was concerned about saying “If the Lord wills, we shall live.” Indeed, the activities of our life are dependent upon our life itself. Will we live to see tomorrow? We just don’t know for sure.

Another passage that comes to mind is Psalm 90 wherein the psalmist compares man, in his frailties, to the stamina and power of God. “A thousand years” says the psalmist “are but as yesterday” to God and he looks upon them as we look upon the grass of the earth which flourishes in the morning but is cut down in the evening. In comparison to the thousands of years which God experiences as yesterday, our years are threescore and ten or maybe fourscore. By the end, all of our years are merely as “a tale that is told” and then “we fly away.” What is the lesson that the psalmist draws from all of this? “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Our days are indeed numbered.

Should we get exercised about the year 2029, or even about the impending day of our death? Certainly we should prepare for death, but let’s not worry about things that are out of our control. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” It’s sufficient for us to worry about today’s affairs and not be preoccupied with things that will occur beyond our control in the future. Today is the day of salvation, no doubt (2 Corinthians 6:2). We should get right with God today if we haven’t. In the mean time, I’m not marking my calendar for April 13th, 2029.

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The Bible Miracle of Speaking in Tongues

There is, perhaps, no more publicized miracle today than that of speaking in tongues. It is the one miracle that those who believe they can do miracles most frequently claim as having been done. In speaking with people who claim to have spoken in tongues today they often describe an emotional experience and a feeling that they have never felt before. When asked what they said when they spoke in tongues, the reply is often, “I don’t know.” And when you listen to those who claim to be speaking in tongues what comes out of their mouth doesn’t even appear to resemble language at all, but “gibberish.” Is this what the Bible teaches regarding speaking in tongues? What was their purpose? Was it an emotional experience? Was it not meant to be understood by the speaker? Was it merely gibberish?

Let’s answer that last question first. The Bible teaches that the miracle of speaking in tongues was not gibberish nor was it language that was unknown. In Acts 2:4 we read, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” So what was it that they spoke? We don’t have to read too far to understand the answer to that question. In Acts 2:7-8, those who heard the apostles speaking in tongues were amazed and then they evaluated what they heard. They said to each other, “Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” What they were amazed at was the fact that these Galileans could speak in the language of their birth. In Acts 2:11 they make this clear, saying “we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” The apostles were speaking human languages that other people could understand. This point is made clear by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:10-11 where he is discussing the appropriate use of the miracle of tongues. He says, “There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.”ESV The languages that they spoke in had meaning. The miracle of speaking in tongues was not mere gibberish.

We still wonder whether tongues were understood by the one who was speaking. It’s possible that a person could miraculously speak in tongues and someone else understand him, but he not understand what he himself is saying, right? In 1 Corinthians 14:4, Paul answers this question. He says, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself�.” In the context, what Paul means by “edify” is that the individual understands the tongue. This is clear when he says in the next part of the verse, “but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.” Paul is comparing and contrasting the spiritual gift of tongues verses the spiritual gift of prophecy. Tongues are not always understood by others, and therefore, they do not edify. They edify the one speaking in the tongue, but no other, if there is no one there who knows the tongue or who can interpret the tongue. On the other hand the gift of prophecy always edifies because it is always spoken in a tongue that can be understood. We can conclude that if speech edifies (whether it is a foreign tongue or a prophecy), then it is an understood tongue and so, since tongues edified the speaker, tongues were always understood by the person speaking them.

But what about the emotional aspect to speaking in tongues. Interestingly enough, the scriptures never speak of speaking in tongues being accompanied by an emotional experience. One would think that if speaking in tongues was such a great emotional event that such would be described as accompanying the gift of tongues in the New Testament. We read such regarding other events, such as baptism. In Acts 8:39 after the Ethiopian nobleman was baptized, it said he went on his way rejoicing. Why wasn’t the gift of speaking in tongues described in a similar way? It seems that there wasn’t any extraordinary emotional experience necessarily attached to the gift of tongues.

What was its purpose then? The Bible teaches that the gift of tongues was part of the set of miracles that the apostles and disciples of the early church could perform in order to convince others regarding the truthfulness of their statements. Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” We then read their purpose in Mark 16:20, “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” The signs were given to confirm the word. This was also the case with the miracle of speaking in tongues. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:22, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not�.” The miraculous gift of tongues was a sign for the unbeliever and that gives us insight into it’s purpose. Jesus commanded the apostles to take the gospel to the whole world; how could they do that if they didn’t have some way to communicate with people of other languages? These people would be unbelievers when initially approached. The miracle of tongues, therefore, was to convince people who did not believe the gospel to believe it. And that was the exact effect it had upon the people to whom the apostles preached in Acts 2.

We can conclude, then, that the Bible teaches that 1) the miraculous gift of tongues was the ability to speak in a foreign, but understandable, language (i.e. it wasn’t just gibberish), 2) it was understood by the person who spoke it, though it wasn’t necessarily understood by the person who heard it, 3) that it wasn’t necessarily accompanied by any extraordinary emotional experience, and 4) that it’s purpose was to communicate with unbelievers to get them to accept the gospel of Christ. Tongues were certainly an important part in the construction of the church, but they were destined to end when God’s revelation in written form was completed. Paul tells us as much in 1 Corinthians 13:8; “whether there be tongues, they shall cease.” Tongues, along with all other Bible miracles, have ceased, and we now have God’s perfectly revealed word in the scriptures.

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