Early in my column-writing career I took note of comments by the singer Madonna. A skin magazine had published nude photos of her, taken when she was a teenager. An interviewer asked if she was ashamed about having posed for them. She threw the question back, saying something like, "What have I got to be ashamed of?"
Today, shame seems to be something experienced after an action, if it is felt at all. Shame now follows what used to be considered shameful behavior before everything became relative and tolerable in a society that judges nothing, except those who judge certain behavior to be wrong.
Some commentators claim that Tiger Woods' multiple extramarital affairs might be a "teachable moment." If Woods, along with some celebrities and philandering politicians, ignore the ancient prophets and proverbs that warn of the consequences of infidelity, who among us moderns has the moral standing to teach them, and average men, how not to cause serious harm to themselves and their families?
There are standards for swinging a golf club. Violate them and the ball goes awry. There are standards for living an ordered life. Violate them and your life can land in a "bunker."
It would be difficult to improve on this sage advice: "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not." (Proverbs 5:3-6)
Everything in modern culture seems to deplore the straight and promote the crooked. People who wish to promote the tawdry, and the commerce that makes many of them a fine living, brand those who seek to remind others of eternal truths as "fanatics" and "fundamentalists." But there are casualties to such behavior, much as there is collateral damage to an out of control Congress that spends money as if we had it in the bank while mortgaging our country to foreigners, many of whom wish for its destruction.
What is wrong with such people? Why won't they see the consequences of errant behavior? It isn't that they can't. They can. But they have chosen not to, which is worse than not seeing. Having an unavoidable accident is different from driving drunk and having a head-on collision that leads to the death of the other driver. Is there too little information about the consequences of drunk driving?
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