Woman to Woman: Restoring "lost innocence" PDF Print E-mail

by Terry Schlossberg, PPL Executive Director

Recently a friend told me about her concern for the adult children of two sets of parents she knows. The parents are Christians who raised their children in the church. But now the young adults, planning to marry, are living together. My friend sighed with exasperation and asked how a society, and a church too, that finds that sort of arrangement acceptable--even encourages it to the extent of silencing the parents--can ever be renewed.

It is difficult to imagine how a society like ours can recover its lost sense of morality. But at the heart of the Christian gospel message is the promise of change, for individuals and societies. There are many good examples in Scripture.

An example: "Hell on Earth"
The Washington Post (8/29/99) featured a story on "Hell" recently. In it biblical scholars explained that the source of human understanding of hell began with Jerusalem's Valley of Ge Hinnom (in English, Gehenna) a thousand years before Christ. You can visit the site today. It continues to smoulder and stink. This was an ancient site of worship where parents sacrificed their live babies to the pagan god Molech. Bible readers will remember that the pagan practice was adopted by the Hebrews and the spilling of innocent blood became the worst horror of the adaptation of Hebrew religion to the culture (Cf 2 Kgs 21:16).

It doesn't just happen
This religious custom was halted only when one of the later southern kings, Josiah, finally swept through Israel, smashing the idols and descecrating their altars (2Kgs 23:10f).

Following the ups and downs of Israel in the Old Testament, its easier for us almost-21st century Christians to see that renewal and reform of the Church dont just happen. The continual lure of evil and the normalizing of sinful practices in the historical and prophetic books seem always to fall fast on the heels of every new promise of faithfulness made by the Israelites.

Our situation is not hopeless
Sometimes we see how similar our own situation is to the one we read about in the Bible. The offering up of unborn, even nearly born, children ought to seem frighteningly familiar. But we ought also to recall that evildoing was not a permanent condition. Renewal happened in that society. Under good leadership of faithful kings and prophets, people sought the mercy and forgiveness of God and gave up their sinful practices. That can happen in our day too. That is what the renewal movement in the Presbyterian Church (USA) is all about.

But it doesn't just happen. Averting our eyes from the evil doesn't bring renewal. Finding ways to tolerate and adapt to sinful practices doesn't bring renewal. Neither does cynicism or withdrawal from the conflict.

It's what the Gospel is about
Renewal is the very heart of the Christian Gospel. The Gospel is about change. It is about reclaiming individual lives and whole societies, and--yes--the Church too. A proper understanding of godliness and evangelism should cause each of us to work toward the dismantling of evil, and for the reclamation of the right preaching of the Word and godly living in our own denomination. PPL is an excellent place to begin your own involvement. Renewal won't just happen, but God can use you and me to turn everything upsidedown--or rightsideup--again.

 

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