Can we agree on something?
by Pastor Scott Van Bibber of New Hope Church
Feb 22, 2012 | 1567 views | 4 4 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Are you in favor of a city where drugs are the accepted norm? Are you in favor of our banks or grocery stores (or any store for that matter) being robbed on a weekly basis? Are you in favor of cars being stolen? Are you in favor of your kids growing up in a city where they do not see the difference between right and wrong? Is it OK with you to have drive-by shootings so that innocent people can get hurt? Is it OK with you if drunken drivers cruise our streets and kill innocent people? Is it OK with you that our kids disrespect their elders, police officers, teachers, principals and parents?

Well — I don’t think it’s OK! We have determined we don’t have the power to change our city, let alone our world. I love Patterson. I’ve lived here for less than a year, but there is a lot to like. As we grow, there will be things that will test our patience. I’m sure with new jobs coming to the area, traffic will increase. With more building going on, there will be more construction projects we’ll have to deal with. With more people coming into our area, it will certainly test what we will accept and what we will not accept. Like the new Walmart or hate the new Walmart, we can talk ’til the cows come home (a Texas phrase), and we’ll have to agree to disagree. But the moral compass of our city will depend on each one of us teaching, living and even becoming passionate about what is right and what is wrong.

What I’m concerned about is the moral temperature of our city. As long as we have parents, grandparents, employers, employees, teachers, principals, politicians, pastors, churches, farmers, ranchers and a host of others who take this seriously, we have the power to make things right. Our kids are growing up in a society with few values to build a life on. If the drug scene, gang scene, alcohol scene, promiscuous sex scene, porno scene and entitlement scene are not confronted, we will lose the baseline of a moral society, and our children will lose the joy of life. There will be no cleanup of this mess unless we take personal steps to do something about it.

Do you want the government to keep all this in order? Well, you’ve seen their moral code. Do you want our schools to be in charge of this moral order? Well, even though we have good teachers who do have a moral compass, they are in some respects hindered from providing your children a God-given pool of wisdom and knowledge. They have answers for our kids who want to learn about a moral compass. Fortunately, there are teachers who have that inward compass that points their students to finding a deep moral life. This battle among teachers, moral guidance, parental help, respect for authority, etc., has been brewing for more than 60 years. Without the salt of morally directed teachers, our schools would be much less influential in helping our children find that moral compass for their own lives.

How do we promulgate and persevere with laying a moral compass for our kids, our city, our families, our own personal lives?

Here is the only way to keep the compass from just spinning:

Jesus Christ is “True North” for the moral compass.

You probably expected that.

I’ve pastored across this county, and no matter where I’ve been, when you take Jesus out — the compass just spins, and parents, children, teens, cities, state and federal governments do not have the “true north” to lead our families, cities, states and nation to a better way.

Can we agree on this? Let me know by visiting and leaving a note.

• The Rev. Scott Van Bibber is pastor of New Hope Church of the Nazarene. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.

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February 25, 2012
Thankyou for your article. As someone who studies the Bible in context with what it means, I agree wholeheartedly. I grieve for those who have been duped to believe mankind has it within ourselves to behave well towards one another. Surely we are to hate the sin, and love the sinner, but it takes God's grace to do so without judgement. Without the Holy Spirit living within us (a gift at salvation) it is impossible.

Keep preaching the truth in love.
February 23, 2012
It seems that every generation thinks the one to come next is worse in morality. I remember my grandparents saying my parent's generation was all messed up because of rock and roll and drugs. I remember my parents ranting about how bad hip hop is and the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons.

Yet, it we take a step back and take a good look, we are in the best of times. For example, in California, the murder rate dropped by a third since 1980. There are many such statistics to show we live longer, safer and more productive lives than was true in the past.

The Bible doesn't give good moral guidance for today's society. The Bible says that girls who have premarital sex should be stoned to death. It says I can beat my slave, just not to death. It says that people working on Saturday should be stoned to death.

Even if you ignore half of the Bible, you can't pull much morality out of the New Testament. Do you focus on Jesus saying to turn the other cheek or on him saying to go get a sword? Is it more important to be intolerant of others sinning or should you hang out with the sinners?

You can pull any moral system you desire out of the Bible and justify it. Want to support war or peace? Want to support pro-choice or pro-life? Want to support slavery or freedom? It is all in there.

From what I have seen the golden rule, which is part of every religion and society, is the best basis for morality. All the rest is just dogma that at best is a waste of time and at worst creates great suffering.

As an atheist, I am tired of Christians pretending to be the source of good morality and implying that those without belief in Jesus are immoral. I will not claim that lack of religion makes you moral, but at least it gets rid of some of the dogma like being intolerant of others for being different or judging others based on archaic rules from a bronze age society.

Scott McKinley
February 26, 2012
To Scott M: Very well put.
March 03, 2012
Thank you, Scott M.. My thoughts exactly. One doesn't have to rely on Jesus, Krishna, or Ra the Sun God for morality. I hope the religious will welcome those of us who don't share their beliefs into the efforts to raise kids to love one another. We're good people too.

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