Right and Wrong

I saw a movie this weekend that will most probably win at least one Academy Award. The story was well written, the plot was tight and creative, the characters were well developed, and the lead actors certainly gave Oscar worthy performances. The problem is there was nothing and no one in the movie that was remotely admirable. None that was respectable or set a good example. Not once was I inspired because a character made the difficult choice to do the noble thing. Not one saw marriage or integrity as sacred. All were perfectly willing to cheat and lie and destroy others so that they could have what they wanted. The closest character to respectable went to jail, while those responsible for the chaos and destruction went scot free. No character in the movie had the slightest sense of right and wrong. And the producers of the movie missed any chance of reminding the viewers of what is best in people by focusing on what is worst in people.

I don’t think that this movie is unique. Several very successful TV shows in the last few years have praised those who enjoy the blessings of our country while plotting to destroy it, who allow their revenge to dominate their politics, and who allow their anger and hopelessness to be a justifiable excuse for their depravity. An actor from one of these series actually said that they had intentionally blurred the lines between good and evil until you couldn’t tell them apart. As clever as that may be, it is evil.

Right and wrong are not ambiguous, abstract ideas that are based on our convenience or change with our circumstance. If we don’t have a clear understanding of right and wrong, we may find ourselves somewhere we don’t want to be, because we didn’t realize where the boundary was. If we don’t teach our children and youth right and wrong, they will learn those definitions from our culture. And our culture is far more interested in profit and power than they are right and wrong. We don’t teach them about God because we want them to make up their own mind, we don’t want to offend those who believe differently than we do. We tell our children to be “good”, and give them no indication of what that looks like. Our inability and choice to take a back seat to self-indulgence and cultural influence leaves God out of our culture.

The most cursory glance at history shows that when a culture loses its sense of right and wrong, it begins to die. Classes on bullying, stricter gun laws, and warning labels will not save a people who have no basic understanding of right and wrong. God gave us his laws, not so he could be in charge…he’s in charge whether we obey him or not…but because there are moral absolutes that don’t change. Ever since Eve ate from the tree of “the knowledge of good and evil”, God has held us accountable for our choices. We don’t get to blame our sin on ignorance and laziness; we are responsible for the choices we make. His law is designed for our good, to help us choose right and avoid wrong. What our culture needs isn’t more laws; what our culture needs is God.

We’ve depended on Hollywood and Washington to make choices for us that are not theirs to make, and allowed them to diminish us into less than God intended us to be. Both have made very clear that they are not bound by God’s law. I’m going to choose my entertainment more carefully in the future. I can’t change what Hollywood is producing, but I can refuse to let their celebration of depravity change me.