by Todd Strandberg

Many times in personal conversation, I've used an analogy to explain why Christian groups are losing the culture war against sin. I found it to be such a helpful analogy, I decided to turn it into an article.

In case you don't know, an analogy is a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based--for example, the analogy between the heart and a pump; the rotation of electrons around an atom and the obit of planets around the sun.

The analogy I will focus on here is the observation of how rust devoured my 1986 Pontiac Sunbird and how sin in the same manner has encroached upon our society.


My Sunbird Loses Its Shine

In 1987, right before I left home to report for duty at Offutt Air Force Base, I purchased a one-year-old Pontiac Sunbird. It was dark blue, and at $6,000, it was the one of cheapest cars that General Motors produced. I drove this car for 13 years.

As a basic airman, I lived on base at Dyess Hall and parked my car right next to the dorms. Because the Sunbird was exposed to the full elements, I took special care to regularly wash and wax my car. A friend told me that it’s important to control rust because the engine will likely outlast the body of any new car.

I drove the vehicle for a few years without noticing any signs of corrosion. After about three years, I spotted a few scratches on the car. To remove them, I went to an auto store and bought a small bottle of touch-up paint. It worked perfectly on the dings.

I had to repeat the touch-up about once every year. The normal time for this would be after each winter, which is the hardest time on a car with all the prolonged wet weather and the sand and salt used on the roads.

With each passing year, I noticed the paint chips and rust would appear at a quicker pace and greater in size. At one point, I was no longer just doing touch-ups. I had to scrape big bubbles of rust from the car in order to apply the paint.

Eventually, the rust became so widespread that I had to buy a can of spray paint and apply paint to whole areas of the car. I even tried rubber cement to keep moisture at bay.

At the very end of my struggle, I reached what could call the point of futility. The rust started appearing everywhere. To make any progress, I would have bathe the whole car in paint, and somehow the rust would continue to form under the new layers of paint. In some spots, the rust had eaten holes in the doors’ panel and underside. I finally had to sell the car as junk.

I later realized what had happened. The physical and chemical structure of the original paint and metal had slowly succumbed to the law of entropy. The paint developed tiny cracks over time that allowed moisture to seep in. The metal had corroded, making it impossible to form a lasting bond with any new paint.

An Example Of Moral Decay

To get a good clear comparison of sin, I chose the trend toward the normalization of homosexuality. Because it was an unmentionable sin for hundreds of years, I thought I’d skip over the rust-free years by starting at the point where the corrosion process began to kick in.

The first Western nation to end executions for sodomy was the Netherlands in 1803, and in England followed shortly afterward, in 1835.

On August 29, 1867, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was the first self-proclaimed homosexual to speak publicly in defense of homosexuality when he pleaded at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws. He was shouted down.

In the late 1800’s, several authors dared to publish books that challenged the view that homosexuality was abnormal. A couple of these books were Sir Richard Francis Burton's Terminal Essay and Sexual Inversion by Havelock Ellis.

The next step in the acceptance of homosexual acts was its decriminalization in many Western nations. In 1933, Denmark was once again the leader. Sweden followed in 1944, the United Kingdom in 1967, and Canada in 1969. In the U.S., states had jurisdiction over sodomy laws. They began appealing them in 1961 with Illinois.

Another major move came in 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and

Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, thus negating its previous definition of homosexuality as a clinical mental disorder.

In the 1970s, several cities passed ruling that prohibited discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

In 1980s, there was an explosion of gay-friendly rulings. In 1982 alone, gay rights legislation was passed in seven states - California, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. Many celebrities came out of the closet with little impact on their careers.

In the 1990s, gay political issues become issues of national political significance. Among them: gays in the military, gay marriage, adoption of children by gays, extension of employment discrimination protection to gays and lesbians, and extension of hate crimes to include crimes against gays and lesbians.

In the 21st century, homosexuals have overcome most obstacles. Gay marriage is frequently in the news because it is about the only taboo left to conquer.

It is truly amazing that the gay rights move has been able to make steady progress the past 30 years in the face of the AIDS / HIV crisis. Despite overwhelming evidence of this deadly disease’s direct connection to homosexual acts, the sin of sodomy has become accepted as normal behavior.

The Comparison

The lesson from my Sunbird and the sin analogy is that any sin involves a step-by-step process toward a greater level of wickedness. The most disturbing factor is the understanding that we should do something early because there is a point where immorality can achieve an unstoppable level of momentum, which is the key point of my analogy. I’ve listed the stages below for better perspective of how sin progresses.

1. Easy To Manage

In this first stage, there is limited problem with sin. Anyone committing an immoral act does it in secret, and anyone found to be an offender suffers severe social or legal punishment. The moral authorities receive little opposition. The lack of preventive measures is the main cause for us shifting out of this stage.

2. The Battle Phase

This is the longest stage, where there is a continuous culture war in society. The forces of virtue repeatedly win, but with each battle, ground is lost to the enemy. The rust of sin is easy to strip away, but it progressively takes less time to reappear. You eventually reach the point where moral authorities have greater difficultly with each battle in rallying the public to stand against depravity.

3. Out Of Control

This is the shortest stage, where sin advances on all fronts. Just like with my old car, a point is reached where there is no will to continue the battle. This is where the church develops cocoon mentality and many of the former watchdogs become part of the problem. This could also be defined as the stage where we simply lose the ability to say “no.”

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'no' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age … (Titus 2:11-12).

4. The Point Of Futility

The last stage is when civilization reaches the point where all hope for reform is lost. Christians who complain about immorality are seen as the offending party. The roles are now reversed, with the moralists becoming the ones who now have to act in secret.

Is There Hope?

It is anyone’s guess as to which of the two final stages we are in. We are clearly at a juncture where it would take extreme measures change our course. When sin becomes part of the DNA of society, we need total reform of the social structure to restore biblical values. There are a certain number of people who will never change their views. They become permanent obstacles to any effort at redemption.

The Bible warns that there will come a point where man is hopeless and is doomed to suffer judgment. The story of Jonah and the city of Nineveh would seem tell us that no society is beyond hope, but God has already given up on society on two occasions: the world that existed before Noah’s flood and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed with fire. Bible prophecy warns us there will be a third time when futility will reign supreme.

If we are in the hopeless stage, the best thing for true Christians to do is save as much of a remnant as possible. An end-time believer should know that
witnessing is his main priority.

Everything in this world needs to be forsaken because is contaminated with sin. When the Chernobyl nuclear plant suffered the worst accident in history, the surrounding city of Prypiat had to be abandoned. Because deadly radiation had crept into nearly everything, there was nothing that people could retrieve. The city that once had a population of 50,000 prior to the accident looked like the rapture had taken place.

In the end, Jesus is the only hope for salvation. It always amazes me when people die lost. God could put a point of futility warning light on their forehead and people would still ignore it. I ask everyone reading this article to consider the hour and make Christ your Savior today.