“Sin has a ripple effect. You never ever sin alone. Because when you sin, you are changed. And when you are changed, you will affect somebody else. And when we talk about victimless crimes in our society, they may be legal, sociological, psychological terms; they are not biblical concepts.” Ravi Zacharias
We often don’t think enough about life shaping us. We look back over time and see that we have changed, grown–we hope. But we don’t often think of the shaping as it’s happening. We tend not to see that our choices form our beings. They also shape those we encounter.
I remember sitting in a college classroom, a criminology class, and hearing the instructor discuss “victimless” crimes, the encounters society frowned upon (more then, less now) but that “didn’t hurt anyone.”
The instructor suffered from the disillusionment that “consenting adults” could engage each other, agree to exploit each other, walk away, and remain unchanged, unharmed, perhaps even happier or better off for having had the experience.
Somehow when one eternal soul encounters another one, both change. And we can see in our society that sin, unrepented and left to itself, never produces happiness or anything else we can call “better”. We human beings shape and reshape ourselves and each other–all through the power of our choices.
We cannot, of course, ignore the work God does in shaping us. Our circumstances–not all resulting from our choices–shape us. But always, always, we choose how we react to every situation.
There is a calling, a mandate, on our lives. That calling demands a response. A false response refuses to acknowledge the harm sin causes. A true response enters a battle against evil, evil that has power to do great harm.
In his discussion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’s various works, Joseph Loconte presents this universal calling:
“One may answer the Call–or refuse it, turn away, and walk into Darkness. But indifference to the Call to struggle against evil is not an option; one must take sides. Thus, set before our imagination in the works of Tolkien and Lewis is one of the great paradoxes of our mortal lives: the mysterious intersection of providence and free will” (152).
Providence issues the call; free will decides. Every day, we choose to answer the call or neglect it.
As our choices shape us, so do they shape our society. And the shifts in society manifest themselves in changed language. Unborn humans have not just become fetuses. Clinic workers must never say the word baby. They call the child tissue, a blob.
Prostitutes are sex workers now. That’s a very clinical sounding term for something that sounds like an innocuous business. That innocuous business has grown into sex trafficking, even of children, even in America.
Porn is not victimless. It turns its viewers into addicts. And it abuses and entraps those who produce it. In the meantime, the audience for porn becomes younger and seeks “ever harsher and more violent, degrading images.”
Abortion obviously harms the child, and less obviously, but still profoundly, harms the mother. Even less obvious, but perhaps as profound, is the damage to fathers, surviving siblings, and other family and friends. And let’s not neglect the harm done to those within the abortion industry. Many within pro-life ranks today left clinic work to stand for life. They have answered the call. But healing is a long road.
Many wounded remain behind and cause more harm.
Loconte: “It is through their own decisions, their yielding to selfish ambitions, that they invite a spiritual crisis into their lives. The result is not the freedom they imagined, but the deepest slavery of heart and mind” (163).
God bids us to answer His call–to be instruments of healing–to make choices that will shape us, others, and our society. We are not called to win the war. It is His fight. He will ultimately win. But we are to fight until “ultimately” arrives.
It’s our choice.
NOTE: Next week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity–January 18 to 25. One issue has brought unity of purpose to Christians from all denominations, the issue of life. Please pray and work for unity within the Church and on behalf of the unborn.
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