William E. Henley wrote a very popular piece of poetry entitled Invictus:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
This poem is masterfully written. I love its cadence. This author doesn’t believe in God and though many would depict him as a very confident man, there lies a thin line between confidence and arrogance. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) There is some evidence that William E. Henley ended his own life.
My neighbor and his wife were experiencing serious marital problems. One day I asked him how things were going. He replied, “Not well. My wife has a religious problem.” My curiosity prompted me to ask him to explain. He said, “She thinks she is God.”
It is a problem that goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. We want to be our own gods. We resent having to submit to authority and we try to escape by becoming gods to ourselves. Masters of our own fate, captains of our own souls. When we invent other gods to replace the one true God we invite turmoil into our lives and our culture. Isaiah addressed this in his 5th chapter.
- Moral Confusion and Perversion. “WOE to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isa. 5:20) We live in an age where it is common to call evil good and good evil.
Pastor Joe Wright of Central Christian Church read this “Prayer for Our Nation”, popularized by Paul Harvey, to the Kansas House of Representatives in January of 1996.
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.”
After receiving over 6,000 calls of protest for his ‘intolerance’, Pastor Joe’s staff stopped counting. This prayer captures the moral confusion of our modern age.
- Arrogant Pride. “WOE to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” Men like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are often arrogant in their disbelief. Atheists are untruthful when they say they worship no god. Everyone worships a god, often the god they worship is themselves.
The arrogant pride of unbelief is an unpleasant stench that emanates from many who are rich and famous:
Jodie Foster: “I absolutely love religions and the rituals. Even though I don’t believe in God.”
Angelina Jolie when asked if there was a God: “For the people who believe in it, I hope so. There doesn’t need to be a God for me.”
Woody Allen: “I can’t bring myself to do it. If I’m sitting next to a guy and he has true belief, I look at him and think, poor thing, you really are deluded.” Allen declares those who believe in Christ to be delusional.
For these who may be arrogant and proud of their opposition to the living God: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
- Corrupt Leaders. “WOE to those who are heroes (leaders) at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.” (Isa. 5:22-23) These verses address corruption among leaders.
Many Americans were confused when a former president declared his honesty in the political realm yet displayed extreme dishonesty in his personal life.
Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina lied to his staff and family when he said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. He was actually meeting a mistress in Argentina.
John Edwards was a viable presidential candidate until he had an affair with a member of his campaign staff while his wife fought a brave fight against cancer.
Newt Gingrich had strong criticism for Bill Clinton’s affair with Monika Lewinsky, all the while hiding the fact that he was participating in the same dishonesty.
More recently, Anthony Weiner lied to his pregnant wife, his staff and the nation, denying juvenile behavior on the internet.
Many Americans are wondering if the guilty have been acquitted in the Casey Anthony trial and the O.J. Simpson trial.
Has there ever been a culture more sinful, more arrogant, and more corrupt than our modern American culture? Billy Graham was writing World Aflame when he let his wife, Ruth, read a chapter describing the sinfulness America. After reading she lay the manuscript down and said, “Billy, if God doesn’t come soon and bring judgment upon the United States, He’s going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!”
Might David’s prayer rest on our lips: “Search me, O God, and know my heart…” (Psalm 139:23) “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2) Pray that God will delay his judgment and cleanse us from our confusion, conceit and corruption.