Authority on Trial

 
As I look back over the past five decades, I have tragically witnessed the gradual death of authority.  I believe this sad phenomenon continues to tear away the fabric of our culture, leading to the shredding of absolutes – those principles that God regards as non-negotiable if we are to live happy, healthy and whole lives.  Like ancient Israel, America has largely embraced relativism, which reduces right and wrong to the whims of the individual, and in the end brings internal rot and destruction.  The Bible describes this plight in Judges 21:25:  “In those days, everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

The so-called “free love” movement and the corresponding sexual revolution of the 1960’s have reaped a whirlwind of moral decay.  Rampant pornography, abortion on demand, increased deviant sexual behavior, the breakdown of marriage and the family and a host of other moral dilemmas have led to a nation rejecting its Biblical foundation.  “Free love” it seems has turned out to be quite costly.

Obviously, this venue does not allow me to comprehensively discuss national events over the past 50 years; however, I’d like to recount seven events that impacted and shaped my worldview.  All of them illustrate a nation’s continued disdain toward authority.

Whether I realized it at the time or not, forces were at work to undermine my future and the future of my children and my children’s children.  These particular events smacked of a national anti-authority sentiment. 

It was September 1962, the start of a new school year.  I was in first grade.  My teacher, who regularly began each school day reciting the “Lord’s Prayer” and/or the Pledge of Allegiance, announced that the Supreme Court had banned prayer in public schools.  I wondered, “What is the Supreme Court?”  And what happened to the “Ten Commandments” plaque that used to hang on the classroom wall? 

In November 1963, our principal’s voice came over the loud speaker just as school was dismissing.  “President John F. Kennedy has been assassinated in Dallas, Texas.”  For five days a nation in mourning sat glued to televisions viewing the funeral saga of its fallen leader.  Where were you when the news came?

Five years later on April 4, 1968, Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee.  Two months later we collectively mourned again as presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy was slain while on the campaign trail in California. 

The nation got a two-year reprieve until May 1970.  Four Kent State University students were shot by National Guardsmen.  This nationally televised riot, with few exceptions, halted a decade of campus unrest. 

Gerald Ford, who completed Richard Nixon’s term in office, escaped two assassination attempts during September 1975.  In 1981 recently elected President Ronald Reagan, was shot by a would-be assassin.  What happened to our values and respect for authority?

Since then we have watched in terror as our schools, nightclubs, theaters and cinemas and even our churches have become targets for mass shootings.  The “once gradual death of authority” has accelerated!  These solemn historical reminders continue to illustrate man’s disdain toward authority in general.  Again, these are only those events that for whatever reason seized my attention.  There have been countless other national incidences that illustrate our growing anti-authority mindsets.

The Scriptures provide other examples of anti-authority sentiments.   One such example is recorded in Genesis 9.  This chapter recounts a domestic incident that resulted in curses upon a rebellious son, a son who despised his father’s authority.  Ham’s public ridicule and exposure of Noah’s drunkenness demonstrates that the flood did not wash away man’s pride and rebellion toward authority.  Only the blood of the future perfect sacrifice – Jesus – would heal the curse of sin.

In this often-misunderstood account, the Bible does not condone drunkenness but rather condemns Ham’s rebellious attitude toward his father.  Yes, Noah was wrong for getting drunk; however, a higher principle comes into play here.

The other sons, Shem and Japheth, despite their father’s indiscretion, still revered his position as their father and honored his authority.  With blanket in hand, they walked backwards into the tent to cover their father’s nakedness and shame.  What’s the point?  If you can’t honor the personality, honor the position.  Curses result when we come against God’s delegated authority.  We open the door to God’s sowing and reaping principle when we come again those in authority over us.  Ask Ham! “Cursed be Ham, the lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers” (verse 25). 

I remember raising my voice to my father when heading into my adolescent years.  Dad immediately took action and brought tough correction.  Afterwards, he asked if I had anything else to say.  I declined comment!  Thank God for a father who taught me to love and respect authority.  His teaching has spared me a lot of trouble in my life!

      

  

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