Vol.XIV No.V Pg.3
July 1977

The Permissive Trend

Dan S. Shipley

Trends can be troublesome things. They are real enough, to be sure, but often hard to grasp and identify. How do you corral and brand a tendency? By their very nature, trends are not ends, but are as intermediaries that lead to ends. They are something like what whiskers are to beards. As some sage has noted, a whisker is not a beard. Even several whiskers are not a beard. Now anyone can tell the difference between a whisker and a beard, but who can say just how many whiskers make a beard? Though not so tangible or predictable, little trends, like whiskers, slowly grow into something. Just what they will grow into is not always obvious — and not always good — and most certainly, not always easy to deal with.

A big reason why trends are so troublesome is that most who go along with them cannot view them objectively. Nothing blinds like involvement. None of us like to think that what we have sanctioned may be wrong or may even lead to wrong. The trouble is, many unthinkingly jump on the trend-wagon without really considering where it may take them. And, once aboard, few are likely to admit they made a mistake by getting on and going along.

Take the trend toward permissiveness in our own generation for example. Almost everyone will acknowledge it, yet who will claim to have been under its influence? From the family unit all the way to the highest echelons of government, we have seen the effects of such a trend. Public conduct and conversation that would have been considered shameful in another generation can scarcely find a blush in ours. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO US? Even if we acknowledge the "beard" of permissiveness, who cares? Who wants to shave it off? Seemingly, not many.

But the worst tragedy would be if God's people didn't care. Trends that affect the nation will be felt in the church. We cannot deny the permissiveness among us. It can be seen in the willingness of many churches to go along with most everything and seldom if ever, take a stand against anything. Only smooth and inoffensive preaching will be tolerated (Isa. 30: 10: 2 Tim. 4:3,4). The separate and distinctive nature of Cod's people is being diluted (polluted maybe better) with worldliness. Many among the set apart people are not — not when they revert to living like the world; not when the church is allowed to become a refuge for the ungodly. Discipline is practically unheard of. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO US? Where are those who once stood uncompromisingly for God's truth? Is it really better for us to go along in order to get along? Just how bad would things have to get before it would be proper to speak out? For those who will listen, God is saying, "already it is time for you to awake out of sleep..." (Rom. 13:11).

Trends involve much time and many people. It is not likely that the nonconforming few will have the time or the influence to reverse the permissive trend that has crept in among God's people. But we cannot remain in passive silence. We cannot fellowship the works of darkness. Wake up! Look into the mirror. See whiskers? Beard? 'Time to shave'.