Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sinning With Impunity: The New American Dream

By Garry J. Moes

Some years ago, Rev. Steve Schlissel, a Jewish Christian pastor in Brooklyn, N.Y., wrote an astute critique of The Revolution of the Sixties. It was, he noted, the era during which America formally changed its religion, after more than a century-long process of eliminating the old religion's standard, the Bible.

With that standard of truth, right behavior and justice gone, it was now possible to realize the central goal of The Revolution and the New American dream of today's Left: the right to sin with impunity.

"It was in the 60's that our civilization underwent its most dramatic change. That consisted in a glaring particular: the demand to sin without consequences," he wrote (Messiah's Mandate, 2nd Letter, 1998).

No assessment better explains why the American Left so warmly embraced the sex-and-lies scandal sired by Bill Clinton in the narcissistic Nineties. Though he initially denied sinning at all, the president later, with his parsed and steely-eyed admission of sin, publicly turned a moral corner which his contemporaries had turned more than 30 years earlier. As Rev. Schlissel put it, "Like a child stepping into the gutter after being told by the parent not to, the 60's generation brought sin ... into the faces of all authorities, and asked, 'What are ya gonna do about it?' The answer was a resounding whimper, 'Not much.'"

Mr. Clinton's entire posture and his formal defense could be boiled down to this: "I have sinned but no one has a right to do anything about it." The American Left, finding in their federal head a most perfect surrogate, have enthusiastically embraced this posture and upheld this defense. For in him they found their best hope to also sin with impunity. But the libertines of the Left were not the only ones to embrace the Sinner in Chief. It must not be forgotten that Clinton's popularity has still not waned much among the population in general.

Incidentally, this perspective also conversely explains why the Left so bitterly hates proponents of traditional moral standards and leaders who exude biblical moral absolutism, such as President George Bush, ordinary honest Christians, . These stand as actual or potential or perceived obstacles to the dreams of the libertine. This is also why, when representatives and advocates of moral absolutes fall, they are so loudly ridiculed and despise — for there is still one sin that cannot be commited with impunity in the assessment of the secular Left: hypocrisy.

Former President Clinton's leading defenders — the rule-of-men "lawyers" who argued his case in court and on television, the president's political partisans, and certain say-anything-and-everything-outrageous pundits — actually traveled further down the slippery slope. Going beyond an assertion of the right to sin with impunity, some found a veritable duty to do so. Hence the various arguments that it is really only expected good form — good sexual etiquette — to lie about adultery.

Then Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt took the case still further during the House impeachment debate. He angrily denounced the puritanical maniacs who, in his estimation, have created a moral standard which is "impossible" for any man to meet. Gephardt apparently would have us believe it is now morally impossible for the world's most powerful political leader to keep his zipper up and young girls out from under his desk while he conducts the other affairs of state and it is further impossible to then refrain from lying under oath about it. To defenders of this bizarre new public morality it is a shameful, unattainable "litmus test" to attempt to view any public official as a moral fiduciary.

A sizable majority of the American people, molded by the morally adrift Old Media, apparently found this all very reasonable, indeed wholly admirable. President Clinton, they held, should not be sanctioned for his failure to avoid the inevitable, because, after all, it was his right and duty and a mark of sexual chivalry to sin without consequence. By extension, of course, it is the people's right as well. In America, it should be remembered, rulers do what they do by consent of the governed, and so immoral leaders frequently take their cue from a people who love sinning with impunity.

The philosophy and politics of sinning without consequence have become pervasive in our society and culture, as several other examples show:
  • The fact came into vivid focus during the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. In this stunning example of how things work in a system where the rule of law is replaced by the rule of men, we heard Johnny Cochran and a sympathetic black jury assert the right to murder without consequence. In this particular case, the right to murder with impunity was grounded in a need to rectify the nation's record of racial wrongs. Justice now has nothing whatsoever to do with law or the facts of the case, but only with some subjective and ever-changing notion of social redress.
  • A "woman's right to choose" allows her to murder her own offspring with impunity. This acceptable and much lauded crime is only the ultimate among the vast array of acceptable behaviors spawned by the utterly destructive sexual revolution which blew wide open beginning in the Sixties.
  • Sodomites, like people in racial categories, are now said to be born that way ... are locked by genetic into their queer orientation ... and must thus be free to commit their abominations without consequences (the HIV virus be damned, or, better yet, embraced ). Even "man-boy love" is promoted, and unfettered pornography is insisted upon. To try to convert the pervert, as the American Psychiatric Association has declared, is the real sin against nature — this particular sin, like hypocrisy by moral absolutists, being another exception to the no-consequences rule, of course.
  • Related to this line of thinking is the whole "victimization" argument. If genetics and the immutable realities of birth cannot be invoked as authorization to sin, we can still find a rationale in the concept of victimization. Society has gotten away with sinning against me, so I have a right to commit crimes and other moral transgressions against society without retribution.
Gratefully, there are still a few statesmen and other leaders who recognize the grave danger to our national and personal lives in this legacy of The Revolution. Whatever their motives may have been, the Republicans who raised their voices during the impeachment debate on behalf of the rule of law were standing heroically in the breach. (Alas, this brand of Republican quickly faded from the scene and their replacements soon fell into the same behavior pattern.) Michael Krauss, a professor of law at George Mason University near the capital, saw the Clinton impeachment skirmish as "in many ways an important battle in the culture wars."

"I'm one of those who believe that there has been an erosion of values and legal standards in the country and that this is the time for the House of Representatives to stand up and say that the erosion will go no further," he told The Washington Times at the time.

Dr. Hafeez Malik, professor of political science at Villanova University, was quoted in the same newspaper as adding, "In the culture, there is a moral relativism, and you are seeing its effect in these political deliberations among the Democrats."

Such voices are increasingly rare. Yet the deafening roar of their opposite numbers cannot change the reality of the Fixed Moral Universe into which God has placed us all.

In His Universe, the City of God, it is impossible to sin without consequence, all wishful thinking and moral relativism to the contrary. "Be sure your sin will find you out," Numbers 32:23 warns.

Our sin will find us out because sin is rebellion against an inalterably just and holy God.

"...[W]e must know that God is holy — infinitely, eternally and unchangeably holy," writes Calvin Knox Cummings in Confessing Christ. "He cannot, he will not, treat sin lightly. His justice demands full punishment for sin. His holiness requires that the demand of the law be met in full. He would not be a God we could respect if he required anything less. Should we expect less justice from God than from a human judge? The earthly judge who lets a criminal go free without punishment is despised as unjust."

That last statement was written in 1955, shortly before The Revolution began to turn such truths upside down. In less than a generation, we now live in a land where it is no longer considered unjust for judges, juries, congressmen, the electorate or the court of public opinion to let criminals like O.J. Simpson, Bill Clinton, and hundreds of garden-variety criminals, child molesters and illegal aliens go free.

St. Augustine outlined what will become of a nation where sinning has no consequence; that is to say, where there is no justice.

"Consequently, if the republic is the weal of the people, and there is no people if it be not associated with a common acknowledgment of right, and if there is no right where there is no justice, then most certainly it follows that there is no republic where there is no justice," he wrote in The City of God (book 19, chapter 21).

To put it another way, it is simply impossible to live freely and safely in a land where people can sin with impunity.

Perhaps God will stay His judgment yet awhile if our national prayer could become that which still stands over the door of the Boone County, Missouri, Courthouse: "Oh Justice, when expelled from other habitations, make this thy dwelling place."

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