During one of my recent trips to my birthplace, I went with a relative to dinner in a restaurant. As we were ready to leave, someone called my cousin’s name and invited us to sit with them. When he introduced himself, I mentioned that I remember him from the time that we were small children with our grandmothers in the church. He told me that it is his brother that I remember and not him, for he does not want anything to do with the church. We spent close to two hours together and I saw that, even though he has been in church when he was young, he has gone far from his youth. He is a bitter man, and even though he is retired, he is proud that he has been able to cheat on two different governments to get his pension to the level where it is now. He has been married a couple of times. Now he is divorced and by the comments that he makes about every woman that passes by, one can see why he is divorced. Most people try to control their language just a bit in the presence of a priest or a pastor, but there is no restrain in his vocabulary which gets fouler as the evening progresses.
I was thinking that in his life as an adult there must have been a tipping point when the scales turned and he kept going downwards. I was trying to figure out what has been the event, the scene, or the person that has poisoned him to the pollution level that he experiences now. That led me to think of other people who have tipped the direction for themselves and sometimes for their nations.
The person who immediately came to mind was Ahab, the king of Israel. He is introduced to us in 1 Kings 16:30 as the king who was more sinful than all the kings that have been before him. As though that was not enough, the chronicler tells us that he kept adding to his sins by marrying Jezebel. The sins that he committed after his marriage were even more egregious, as his wife encouraged him to use his power as the king.
One could argue that one more sin is not that dangerous in the midst of the hundreds of sins that individuals and societies are already doing. We can argue that all of us are sinners and that is true. Yet I believe that in the life of an individual and the life of a nation, there are sins that tip the scale in the same direction that Jezebel has tipped the scales in the life of Ahab.
The first thing that I believe tipped the scale in the national conscience was the Supreme Court decision on abortion. The Court had decided on a point of ignorance – we do not know when life begins. Years later after millions have been aborted and we scientifically know when life begins, the wheels of the abortion places keep going sustained by all sorts of coalitions of those who benefit from them – doctors, politicians, and women who feel that abortion is one of their rights.
The second thing that I believed tipped the scale is the pollution of our culture by Hugh Heffner and his ilk. Like my friend from my birthplace, Hugh grew up in a church and then rebelled against it. He later introduced the Playboy philosophy. Women became sexual pleasure dolls, adultery was accepted as entertainment, and generation after generation developed into sinful gratification without any conjugal responsibility. The lifestyle that Hugh lives in his late 80’s is pitiful, but he has influenced the society towards doing evil as few other people have done.
The third tipping point was done by those who came as teachers of the Bible but tell their students that the Bible is not true. Among the best known is Bart Ehrman who teaches New Testament at a state university, but does not believe anything about the Bible. He is a great speaker, his books are promoted by many, but no one has ever been turned to glory and started to serve God by reading his books.
If Ahab provoked God with his sins, is there a possibility that we in the American society are doing that today? God’s anger was released against Ahab and Jezebel who concluded their lives in a horrible way (1 Kings 22:33-38, 2 Kings 9:30-37). Nevertheless, God sent prophets throughout Ahab’s life to convince him to change his ways and He waited patiently for Ahab to change.