“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
We live in a time of contradiction and confusion. A central message of contemporary society is that if you have a strong impulse, feeling, or preference, then it is your right to pursue and indulge that feeling/preference.
However, this only applies to some preferences, but not to every preference. According to current social and legal standards, if your preference is to abort/kill your unborn baby, that’s OK. But if your feeling/preference is to kill the annoying neighbor down the street, well … that’s not OK.
If you think this a silly analogy, consider that for the majority of American history, abortion was not only immoral and illegal, it was unthinkable. But somewhere along the line the unthinkable became socially acceptable and legally protected.
The same thing has happened in many other categories. Impulses, feelings, and preferences that were once considered inappropriate have now become not only socially acceptable, but in many instances legally protected.
Here’s one of the challenges: Who decides which feelings and preferences are legitimate and acceptable, and which ones are not? And whose preference takes precedent? Frankly, it’s all rather confusing. It must be particularly confusing for young people trying to discover themselves and decide what standards and principles to live by. Young people have strong impulses, so which ones should they say “yes” to and which ones should they discipline themselves to say “no” to?
The reality is that the current ruler in America is the imperial self. The reigning ethic is radical autonomy. Contemporary America would re-write Proverbs 16.25 to say, “There is a way that seems right to each person, and they should be free to pursue it without restrictions.”
America is a nation built on the principles of liberty and freedom. But freedom fails when it runs to excess and is reduced to permissiveness. When you have rights without responsibility, it is little more than politicized self-interest, and it will destroy true liberty.
To a great extent, contemporary America is an echo and mirror of Israel in the Old Testament. Judges 21.25 describes it very clearly: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
And we know how that turned out ...