The Corner

Symptoms of an Age-old Problem

The world is “a-twitter” over the latest case of a high-profile political figure having a moral failure. In this case, we’re hearing a lot about how the digital age contributes to many of the shameful acts we are witnessing in our culture. But all technology does is to magnify. What we see in this case is the age-old problem of human sin, along with the modern problem of refusing to recognize it and, therefore, restrain it. 

The tragedy here is that congressmen, like schoolboys, have bought the modern myth: Life is all about us and our desires, and whatever we want to do is okay as long as we feel good doing it. We’ve lost the restraints of conscience and have abandoned the understanding of right and wrong that has been the foundation of Western ethics. 

We are in an ethical mess today, caused by our embracing of relativism and abandoning truth and moral certitude. Nothing less than a total restoration of ethics can save us. People will recklessly pursue their passions as the consequence of what we Christians call “original sin” or “the Fall.” They can only be restrained in two ways: 1) personal integrity coupled with personal responsibility, or 2) the power of the state and the law. The less you have of the former, the more the latter becomes essential. 

Freedom cannot be maintained without the cultivation of virtue. Whether it be Mark Sanford or Anthony Weiner or whoever will be the butt of jokes tomorrow, their follies are nothing more than symptoms of a false view of life that we embrace today in America — at our great peril.

— Former special counsel to President Nixon, Chuck Colson is the founder of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and has just produced a DVD series on ethics called “Doing the Right Thing.”

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