He does not want to go home after daycare. During those hours, he experiences the nurturing care of women — that mothering touch that makes a little boy’s world go round. He cries when it’s time to leave. He stammers to leave the maternal — a second language in which he was born fluent — when he has to go back into the home of two men. The “married” men are openly promiscuous with other men. One pretends to be more effeminate than the other, but effeminacy (the boy knows by experience) is a gross and cruel substitute for the gloriously feminine.
He is trapped with men who “gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:27). Men who did not keep that penalty to themselves. They took the little boy directly from the hospital room to live in the lust-filled, wrath-stamped house of two men despising God and his design.
The little boy clings to his Christian auntie whenever she comes, she tells us, and cries when it’s time for her to leave his house, a house full of testosterone, aberrant desire, and a cheap mimicry of both fatherhood and motherhood. The boy, despite his catechizers, knows the real thing from the fake. He knows what it is to be held by the real, soothed by it, cuddled and made to feel secure in the safety of its arms.
The men who took him are “expecting” their second any day now.
What’s Wrong with the World?
A true story like this should anger us, fracture our hearts, and bend our knees to pray. What is wrong with the world?
What is wrong with the world? Paul gives us an answer in Romans 1:18–32: Mankind is at war with its Creator. Each generation has its own way of saying to the Father and his Son: “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:3). Or with Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” (Exodus 5:2). Romans 1 takes us behind the scenes for some context to desperate times.
Here we learn that fallen man, timid little creature that he is, dares not make eye contact with the Almighty, so he suppresses the truth about God to continue, all too happily, in his filth (Romans 1:18). A popular form of suppression today is atheism. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” — and he does so because “they are corrupt” and “do abominable deeds” (Psalm 14:1). And those deeds do not wear masks and quarantine. Man denies God to practice and continue practicing homosexuality, as one of many rebellious ways, and then adopts children into his perversity.
But the grandeur of this world leaves ruined man without excuse (Romans 1:19–20). He, even he, lives within a masterpiece — God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20). The great artist signs his name everywhere to be seen. Man quivers within heights and depths he cannot explore, in a cosmos more expansive than his imagination. Man’s brain (which is hostile to God apart from grace, Romans 8:7–8) surpasses a computer. His cells contain baffling intricacy. And yet his love for sin makes modern man shrug and call himself an atheist. His religion says that all came from original nothingness, from the great I Am Not. Claiming to be wise, he has become a fool.
The old watchmaker analogy highlights the absurdity of explaining nature by mere nature. If that atheist man finds an iPhone in the woods, he will always conclude someone must have left it there. That it was made. Chance did not design it. The passage of time cannot take credit. Though an Apple, it did not fall from a tree. Yet he lives and moves and has his being in the wide world of complexity that towers the iPhone as the heavens above earth and yet he says it all came from impersonal, unintelligent forces. They are without excuse.
Fattened by Sin for Slaughter
Unregenerate men of all sexual professions do not see God because they do not want God. They would pin him up and nail him to a tree again if they could. “This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). As criminals want no All-Seeing Judge, so natural man chafes at the God who reminds him that man is no god and is not good. How dare God tell us what to do with our bodies? How dare he tell us what to do with our babies? How dare he tell us what marriage is? How dare he!
So sons of Adam reject God. They do not render him the honor due his name, or thank him for his goodness and mercy (Romans 1:21). Instead, they offer the Almighty insults and spit upon the hand of their Benefactor. As a madman who pulls out his teeth to throw them at the sky because he hates the moon, men harm themselves in their rebellion. They become useless in their thinking, and their foolish hearts are darkened (Romans 1:21). Deny God, and you deny reason, deny sanity, deny goodness, deny beauty, deny life. One becomes a spiritual Nebuchadnezzar — nails grow as talons, he stoops to eat grass like an ox — though he may live in a lake house, drive a fancy car, and be thought charming by this God-hating world.
He is at war with God, and God is at war with him. He is under the wrath of God, a wrath that is just now preheating (Romans 1:18). He has exchanged God for images, and now God gives him over to suicidal sinfulness: to the lusts of his heart, to impurity, to the dishonoring of his own body (Romans 1:24). He bowed before idols and prostituted God’s truth, so God brings him to grassy plains where he will grow fat for the day of slaughter.
Bloodshed of Toddlers
God has given these two men up to dishonorable passions, to commit “shameless acts with men” (Romans 1:27). And then they conspire to adopt what God has forbidden them by nature. And then the delirious powers that be place kids in their “home” to be hit by the shrapnel of this skirmish with God.
And this is what God’s judgment does: Like striking a wasp’s nest, it incites man’s stinging left and right.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Romans 1:28–31)
Who do these “haters of God” envy? Deceive? Slander? Murder? Themselves, others, and sometimes, children.
Rebellion against God becomes a wildfire. Wickedness is never satisfied to keep to itself; it mutinies. It enlists bedfellows. It stirs up and demands compliance. It slithers and has scales, takes over school systems and adopts children. And it co-opts those who know better: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). These know such sins beg for God’s capital punishment, but instead of imploring them to repent — as love would dictate — they instead applaud them for their courage and “authenticity.”
Flee the Wrath to Come
God’s reality is inflexible. His law is perfect; his rules are true and righteous altogether. The Judge of the earth shall do right, and this is a terror for all here who despised his mercy, despised his designs for love, sex, and marriage, despised his day of salvation, and despised his crucified Son.
Today, dear reader, is the day of salvation — seek King Jesus. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. He has made a way, with his own blood, for you to be received. Are you a vast sinner? Have you murdered, taught false doctrine, adopted children into an abominable union before the Lord? Your wicked life is a wide opportunity for God to display the fathomless depths of his compassion and the eternal power of Christ’s sacrifice to forgive you. The terrorist of the church, the blasphemer of God, and murderer of Christians wrote,
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15–16)
Look to this great example of mercy to give confidence to receive your own. Abundant pardon for abundant crimes. There is enough mercy for all who come.
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6–7)
Jesus Christ has a throne of grace for the repentant, and a seat of terror for the impenitent. What is wrong with the world? Man’s sin. What alone is right with the world? Jesus Christ — his person, his redeeming work, and his church of redeemed sinners. He shines in the darkness, and still the darkness has not overcome him.