Growing up my parents emphasized the principal of cause and effect. In essence, this was all about reaping what you sowed. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Where I have sown hard work and integrity I have reaped the benefit of a great 34 year marriage, a home, transportation, respectful and loving kids/grandkids and the peace of mind that only can only come from a clear conscience and a deep relationship with Jesus. When I have tried to make shortcuts in life I have found the gain to be less than beneficial and short lived.
Take my shed for example. Maybe I have had a trade show or a project in which I took my display or several tools out and when the show or project was over I didn’t take the time to put everything up in its place. Sure it may have saved me some time on the front end, but in the last couple of weeks I have spent probably 15 – 20 hours picking up, organizing, cleaning and working on my shed as it had gotten to the place where I couldn’t even get around or find stuff. I just wish I would learn my lesson because this is probably the 3rd or 4th time I have had to repeat this scenario. But in the big scheme of things I haven’t really caused any long term harm or eternal profit from either my shed laziness or cleanliness. There are other things of a similar nature to the shed story like taking aspirin for a headache because someone forgot to drink their morning coffee or drank too many Margaritas the night before.
Then there are things which seem like a good idea at the time but which can leave significant problems or devastation in the end. Take the free distribution of clean needles to drug addicts or condoms to prostitutes or high school students. Lots of good arguments can be made for trying to mitigate the negative effects of these challenges. But truth be told, this kind of help serves simply as a crutch to enable bad behavior and which can even be viewed as tacit approval of the harmful activity. Probably the most glaring example of this kind of “harm reduction” is abortion. Someone is pregnant, they were raped, they have no money or husband and having a baby right now is simply not convenient to their current stage in life.
These examples are just a sampling of hundreds of tough life challenges which if practiced or handled in short cut fashion yield long term devastating consequences. That is life without hope. That is life without REAL help. That is life without God. And life like that really sucks and most often ends in despair, desperation or worse.
God’s laws of conduct were not written to keep us from having “fun”. The Father knows how harmful certain activities are and He was gracious enough to warn us and direct us away from danger by providing us with an operating manual for humans – the Bible. Maybe you are one of those who thinks you should be able to huff paint fumes and not loose brain cells or share drug needles and be immune from hepatitis. What about being able to have free sex or gay sex and not get a sexually transmitted disease or eat only junk food and not get sick. But then you would be one who thinks he know better than God as He is the one who designed those consequences in order to direct, scare and keep us away from activity which hurts us. A fair amount of our medical research and practices are harm reduction based as they are geared in the direction of trying to eliminate naturally occurring problems resulting from not obeying Gods laws.
For Christians, there is a double whammy for not honoring God’s directions for life. To start with you damage yourself (and often those around you) and secondly you damage the reputation of Christ. I am amazed at how many young people who go to church and profess Christ have chosen to rebel against their loving heavenly Father as if they know better. One of the most common indications of their rebellion is fornicating with their girlfriend/boyfriend and more recently delving into the same sex arena.
On some level the church only has itself to blame for this. In many cases our churches and society have effectively removed many visible consequences and barriers relating to sin. Whether sexual sin, gossip, divorce, gluttony or greed, we rarely correct, confront, rebuke or remove the offending brother, sister or couple. Instead we offer marginally effective and short sighted, harm reduction (read sin consequence) alternatives. You can get surgery to counter act your over eating and under moving, bankruptcy for over spending or under working, divorce for under committing or for over lusting, escaping to our private homes or changing churches for over talking (gossip) and adoption or abortion for being overly intimate.
Side Note: On the gossip subject I think many people will just arrogantly stand there and do it anyway.
Actually I am in the harm reduction business as I manufacture and sell high security locks to prevent trailer thefts. The tag line for my Ft. Knox Locks business is “Setting the gold standard in protecting your assets”. You have to wonder how protected the “assets” of all those Ashley Madison customers feel about now knowing their names have been made public as having an account on the “Life is Short, Have an Affair” website. Here was a secular company trying to eliminate or reduce any consequences for having an affair. How did that work for millions?
There are naturally occurring bad consequences for sin and those consequences were inherently designed to hurt us and thus turn us away from harmful activity. But remove or lessen the cost and impact of sin and guess what? Sin abounds – who knew? God knew: which is why He made a way to escape eternity’s ultimate judgment and perhaps even some of the consequences while here on earth. Why don’t we focus on the fact that there are abundant and wonderful benefits for honoring and obeying God’s laws? But instead people have been trying for millennium to skirt the consequences of breaking God’s laws to no avail. It may seem that some succeed or that they succeed for a season of time. But sincere Christians must stop banging their heads against the laws of God. You will lose in the end. And you are just as likely to take others with you down that broad and socially accepted road that leads nowhere but self gratification – and then you die. But for those who choose the narrow, unpopular and less traveled road labeled “servants of the most high God” those good consequences and promises of the Father await.