Our Abandoned, Reprobate Society
The rapid pace of our moral freefall and spiritual disintegration in the West is an appalling thing to behold. And we are indeed beholding it. We are living through the collapse of the West, witnessing first-hand our own national immolation. Trying to get a handle on all this is not always easy.
Many folks are perplexed and bewildered at the wholesale disintegration of society and the fact that it seems we really are sinking in moral quicksand with no way out. How do we account for all this? The biblical worldview explains it fully and in detail.
Several apt biblical descriptors can be used here, including “divine abandonment” and “reprobation”. The word “reprobate” is not often heard in contemporary culture, but it is a thoroughly biblical word, and is very much fitting in today’s West.
One of the key biblical usages of this term is found in Romans 1:28. The KJV puts it this way: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”
The NIV says this: “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” And the ESV translates things this way: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”
The rampant immorality, sin and debauchery we see everywhere around us can in part be explained by this extremely frightening truth: things can get so bad that God actually hands people over to their own sin and wickedness. Indeed, the shocking phrase “God gave them over” is found three times in short succession here.
The other two occasions are found in verses 24 and 26: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Rom 1:24-27).
Shockingly, God hands people over. And notice what Paul uses as his supreme example of reprobation, of being given over: homosexuality. Paul makes it quite clear that when homosexuality runs amok in a society, that is a very solid indication that God has forsaken that society, and divinely-permitted reprobation is occurring.
Let me look at these ideas in a bit more detail. Douglas Moo explains what the “worthless mind” entails: “The Greek for ‘mind’ is nous. This word refers to more than intellectual capacity; it is the organ of moral reasoning and willing”. Thus they cannot discern and understand the will of God and that which is right.
In other words, their moral compass is completely damaged. As Frank Matera comments, such people under divine abandonment have a “cold and calculating mind that no longer distinguishes between good and evil.” Their evil passions and desires lead to a morally dead mind and conscience.
Colin Kruse says that God “gave them over to the tyranny of a mind that was not worthy/depraved.” He explains: “The play on words here is obvious in the original. Paul says that because people did not think it worthwhile (ou edokimason) to acknowledge God, he gave them over to the tyranny of a mind that was not worthwhile (adokimon).”
Ben Witherington emphasises the connection between act and thought here: “This passage implies quite a great deal about the nexus of belief and behavior. It assumes that bad theology, or at least deliberately ignoring good theology by ignoring God, leads to misbehavior.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones ties things together this way: “When mankind refuses to glorify God as God, when mankind does not thank Him and address Him and worship Him as it ought, and when, in its cleverness, it dismisses or throws Him out, what God does is to do exactly the same to mankind.
“There is a play on words in this twenty-eighth verse: ‘Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge’. God did not like to retain them – He gave them up, left them to themselves. They abandoned God, God abandoned them. That is what Paul is saying.
“In other words, what we have here is an account of God’s judicial abandonment of man in sin. And you notice that He even abandoned them in their minds, which is the most terrifying and terrible thing of all. . . . The tragedy of man in the world is not only that he is debased in his conduct, he is debased in his mind. He cannot think straight. That is why he tries to justify these vile things, and tries to explain them in terms of biology or psychology and so on. . . . And when a man’s mind has become reprobate, there is no hope for him, there is nothing to appeal to!”
If all this appears to be so very diabolical, there is good reason for this. As James Montgomery Boice writes, “At the end is a mind not merely foolish or in error, but totally depraved. It is a mind so depraved that it begins to think that what is bad is actually good and that what is good is actually bad. May I say it? It is the mind of the devil.”
It does indeed seem that every demon in hell is running around with free rein, allowed to do their ugly deeds. We see it everywhere today. But Romans 1:18-32 describes it all perfectly. Nothing surprising here. This is evil compounded: sinful men given over to their sin and to a debased mind.
This explains so well what we are now witnessing. A recent piece by Michael Bresciani discussing the scene in America under Obama makes much the same case: “In the simplest terms, all that pertains to God, righteousness and morality is shunned in an atmosphere of self-indulgence and lawlessness.
“Before reprobation sets in on a generation, they may be found acknowledging and repenting of their sins. After reprobation begins to take root, they are found affirming and celebrating their sins. Nowadays, anyone calling out the sin is called a hater of the sinner. The lawless then turn to the law to force acceptance of their lawlessness. It is a vicious cycle that leads to destruction.
“If you want to lust for those of your own gender you must be protected by the law to do so, and even the suggestion of someone counseling you to avoid the temptation must be silenced. Several states have adopted laws to stop counseling to change the minds of youngsters who are inclined toward their own sex.
“The law of God is being sidestepped by popular trends, PC notions of diversity, and the ‘new morality,’ which is only amorality (disregard of all morality) passing itself off under a new name. Changing the laws is a means of changing definitions of social institutions to remove from life any borders or parameters that define good and evil.”
He concludes: “Is there a way to turn around America’s plunge into reprobation? To say otherwise would be to deny that God can and will bring a people back into favor if they will turn and serve him again. Since Obama took office we may have seen this verse quoted time and again as a call to a nation that is surely going reprobate. The key is obedience. For all that God says in His word, it’s time for the heeding, not just the reading.”
And the verse he rightly appeals to is this: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Ch 7:14)
That is indeed our only hope.
9 Replies to “Our Abandoned, Reprobate Society”
Good article Bill.
Now having recently read the Bible all the way through, I do have the complete picture once again. There have been so many times when Ancient Israel constantly turned away from God. Time and time again. The prophet Amos had this to say in Amos 5:21-24-
“I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
And in later in Amos 8:4-6
Hear this, you who trample on the needy
and bring the poor of the land to an end,
saying, “When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great
and deal deceitfully with false balances,
that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals
and sell the chaff of the wheat?”
When I look at society today, it is in such a bad way and where is the Church? Some churches and pastors even conduct Gay weddings. Hey, they remain silent when Christian couples live together before getting married nowadays. Now could one imagine if God said this to us with our church services?
Great piece Bill. Very accurate re today’s culture
Excellent article – and I would like to add just a further point:
One of the merciful actions of God after the fall of man is found in the following verse:
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: ”
God despite the fall has through his creation left man with a serious clue concerning his existence – The pinnacle of his creation being the Union between Man and Wife.
Now when we read :
Rom 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
We see now an incredible judgement take place.
God has allowed man to change and pervert the course of nature –
Meaning that he has hidden himself even further – As this perversion of nature spreads out throughout society it will no longer be able for man to discern God through his creation
What a judgement!
We are reaping what we have sown.
The error of communism (Godlessness) has spread throughout the whole world. (Fatima 1917.)
May God have mercy on us.
Ps The ABC Q and A programme this week only brings home to us just how far we have come.
Thanks Bill. Like yourself, I’m a graduate and former advocate of Woodstock ‘enlightenment’. Paul’s words in Romans 1: 18 to 2:4 ring true to me every day.
Here’s a relevant quote from GK Chesterton’s Father Brown who must be the mildest, most self-effacing yet cutting culture warrior in literature:
……”You are more of a mystery than all the others”, she said desperately. “but I feel there might be a heart in your mystery”.
“What we all dread most”, said the priest in a low voice
“is a maze with no centre. That is why atheism is only a nightmare”.
..from ‘The Head of Caesar’ in ‘The Wisdom of Father Brown’ .
A revealing theological explanation of why it is impossible to be logical with and reason with homosexuals, moslems, evolutionists, atheists, abortionists, and the left wing in general.
Thank you Bill for this article.
Have you written anything on the ‘unforgivable sin’? I read an exposition once that it refers to the very thing written about here, the denial of God so complete that all conscience goes with it. The sin cannot be forgiven because the individual is incapable of confessing it or repenting of it.
Blessings for your safe travel. No kissing or holding hands in the UAE!!!
Bill, I’m reading this 5 years after your published it. It is 2019 and now commercials on TV (specifically the Gillette Company) are encouraging strong male authority figures to teach their sons and other young men honorable behavior. Surprise? Has someone taken notice of a ‘reprobate society’ that has abandoned the nuclear family of the 50’s-70’s? And regarding repressing counseling of young people to re-consider their decisions to become homosexual, let me tell you about a friend of mine who was a man who was convinced he should become a woman and transitioned in 1970’s. ‘She’ was named Janice and before she became a woman, was named ’Steve’. Janice confided in me when we became friends as co-workers in an NICU unit. She was a pediatric-neurologist intern and I was a unit secretary. I invited her to church; she accepted Christ, was filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized. Years later, I heard that she decided to change back to ’Steve’. Realizing she didn’t make the right choice after all. However, God accepted her as Janice….because he is in the saving business…and he has grace and forgiveness. So anyone who believes a transexual or homosexual has been given up to a reprobate mind should remember that they may still be a soul that God is drawing to himself. Never, never, never give up on anybody. That is what I wanted to let you know. But I do agree, our society has almost been lost if commercials acknowledge that we need to give guidance to young men…especially when we threw it away so long ago. I pray for all of us. It is late and judgement is coming.
Thanks Jane. I am mostly with you. Of course it was the Apostle Paul under divine inspiration who assured us that the “homosexual has been given up to a reprobate mind” – have a re-read of Romans 1. And I am not sure that we can say God fully ‘accepts’ those who deliberately and flagrantly violate his created order of humanity as male and female. Sure, his heart breaks for them and he wants them saved, but he does not just wink at sin nor pretend things are just peachy.
But sure, any person can be saved from a deadly and dead-end lifestyle if they repent, turn from their sins, and put their faith in Christ. Yes God is in the saving business. Yes God seeks the lost. But he never ceases to be holy, just and righteous, and his standards never bend to accommodate human sin.
So I hear what you are saying and I know God saves. The latest book by Walt Heyer, the former transsexual, which I will soon do a review of, gives us more examples of his saving grace. So we are thankful for his mercy, but we dare not presume upon his holiness either. And yes his judgment is surely coming. Thanks again and blessings.