It’s not a fashionable thing to say these days – let’s be blunt, you’ll probably be written off as ‘a religious nutter’ if you do in mixed company – but our God is a faithful God. And the Bible is His revealed word.
I say this, having just read the incredibly gory story of Jezebel and her long overdue come-uppance at the hands of Jehu, who was the new king and clearly a bit miffed at the way she’d ‘dissed’ (treated contemptuously, to those of us of a certain age) the beliefs and religious practices of Israel. Indeed, she’d provoked outrage by promoting some very dodgy practices relating to her own favoured cult of Baal, which included child sacrifice, pretty indiscriminate murder of anyone and everyone she viewed as belonging to the opposition, and all kinds of sexual immorality.
By all accounts, not a nice lady, and in those days this kind of thing – belief and practice – clearly mattered. How unlike today!
I’m not advocating chucking heretics out of windows and turning them into dog food, but until fairly recently it was accepted as one of the core beliefs of Christianity that Scripture was the direct and revealed Word of God; given for our blessing, and to be obeyed lest dire consequences result. Broadly speaking, its purpose was twofold. On the one hand, to help men and women grow in relationship with God (which was impossible without guidance), and on the other to provide a kind of instruction manual on how to live, with the cast-iron assurance that if the maker’s instructions were followed, all would be well and joyous fulfilment would result.
But somehow, along the way, we seem to have lost all that. Nowadays, in popular perception, the Bible is little more than a culturally irrelevant history book. It talks about God, certainly, and some of us still believe in Him, but the more general view is that its so-called moral teaching was the product of contemporary mores that are no longer applicable to our evolved understanding of what it is to be human. In fact, in our pick and mix belief system, articulated so powerfully by St John Lennon in the final years of the last century, ‘All you need is love…’ and anything suggestive of moral restraint or responsibility is irrelevant.
The trouble is, none of our brave new prophets appear to have bothered to ask God. Though how could they? They don’t believe in Him.
Which brings me back to my first point. We may try strenuously to rewrite the Bible, and say that all the bits prohibiting sexual immorality were actually only cultural tools employed by a male patriarchy to ensure their dubious continuance in power, but the sad truth is that without such restraint society at every level, starting with the family, will disintegrate. Without the support of a male partner, for instance, women with children will not enjoy liberation, but on the contrary will be enslaved by the need to provide. At the same time, children will be increasingly exposed to abuse from sexual predators, whose behaviours, no matter how perverted, are affirmed by a value system that refuses to enforce any and all values. So mental health problems, social instability, declining educational standards, promiscuity and ever higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases, will all increase as children are deprived of their roots and grow up without the security of a mother and father.
No, whatever your belief (or lack of belief) system, God is not mocked. It may take a while, but we shall inevitably reap what we sow.