I have told our children over and over to not be surprised by the world. I tell them that you can't expect an unregenerate person to act in any other way except as an unregenerate person; so don't be shocked. And I convince myself that I can't be shocked by sin.
For the most part, I'm not. Horrified and saddened, yes. Surprised, no. When we see the ongoing atrocities committed by jihadists, I'm angered and grieved, but not really shocked. Regular stories of violence, whether it's a white man killing black people in their church; or a gay, black man killing his white former co-workers; these are deeply troubling, but not shocking given the depraved hearts of men. And when liberals want to scream about white racism with that first story, but blame guns for the second, well, that's a whole other post. But I'm not shocked by that sin.
But then a story comes along that hits me in the head and it can't stop shaking. It's not that it's all that heinous, when compared to terrorists or abortionists (though I'm not sure those are separate terms). Some folks may not even be shocked by it. But I'm dumbfounded.
I recently came across an article from a ministry operating in my own backyard that I was not even aware of. GO 61 is a ministry based on Isaiah 61 bringing good news to the poor and setting captives free. Namely, they are focused on rescuing folks from the sex trade. Not that the sex trade is shocking, since it is after all the "world's oldest profession." And it's not that I somehow thought it didn't exist here, because it exists everywhere.
But this article, published almost a year ago, was describing the story of one former prostitute and her experiences. And as heartbreaking as the whole thing is, the part that shocked me had to do with the response of others to what she did. She says that most folks were unaware of how she made a "living", with her online solicitation. But after a fight with a best friend in which the best friend's daughter found out her profession, things got....disturbing.
She was close to this friend and her daughter, the daughter called her "aunt." She was devestated to think that this teen now knew what her "aunt" did for a living. But the shock came when the girl told her friends at school, and the former prostitute started receiving messages from other teenage girls. They were asking her how to go about setting up an online account so they could make a little extra money as prostitutes! One girl's parents took her iPhone away, and she wanted to make some quick cash to get a new one. And she was willing to prostitute herself to get it!
Some may not be shocked by that at all. And as I said, it may be nothing compared with the real atrocities being committed out there. But we hear all the time about girls in the sex trade being forced there by homelessness, or drugs, or domestic abuse. To think that young girls would willingly enter that trade just to get some cash for a new iPhone? I admit it, my head is still shaking as I type this.
That our world is so mired in it's sin; that we've raised a generation of young people with such a lose understanding of intimacy; that we are so materialistic that a girl would value her iPhone more than her own body and soul. Oh, God, save us!
And He can, by the way. I don't know much about GO 61 but I plan to learn more. If it's all on the up and up, it's a wonderful ministry, seeking to rescue folks from this kind of thing and share with them the Gospel of Christ. He can, and does, give men and women new hearts all the time. I know He's not shocked by these things. He knows the depths of our depravity more than we ever will.
I think John Newton had a grasp on it though. That former slave ship captain, converted miraculously into a hymn writing pastor and proclaimer of the Gospel. He wrote this hymn which shows an understanding of man's willing decent into depravity, and reminds us of the only hope for rescuing us out of it. I offer this hymn to remind us of our own hearts as well, and to those who may even now be caught in the web of sin. There is hope in Jesus. Oh, God, save us.
No words can declare, No fancy can paint,
What rage and despair, What hopeless complaint,
Fill Satan’s dark dwelling, The prison beneath;
What weeping and yelling, And gnashing of teeth!
Yet sinners will choose This dreadful abode,
Each madly persues The dangerous road;
Though God give them warning They onward will go,
They answer with scorning, And onward do go.
How sad to behold The rich and the poor,
The young and the old, All blindly secure!
All posting to ruin, Refusing to stop;
Ah! think what you’re doing, While yet there is hope!
How weak is your hand To fight with the LORD!
How can you withstand The edge of his sword?
What hope of escaping For those who oppose,
When hell is wide gaping To swallow his foes?
How oft have you dared The Lord to his face!
Yet still you are spared To hear of his grace;
O pray for repentance And life–giving faith,
Before the just sentence Consign you to death.
It is not too late To JESUS to flee,
His mercy is great, His pardon is free;
His blood has such virtue For all that believe,
That nothing can hurt you, If him you receive.
"No Words Can Declare" by John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779