Some words are still forbidden in our western culture. A select few are bleeped from live shows, thanks to modern technology, because they are still considered inappropriate for the general populace. Certainly “adults” use those words, but they aren’t considered right for polite society.
Still other words get people fired. Anything caught on mike that might be construed as a racial slur is grounds for dismissal. Terms demeaning women or homosexuals are creeping into that same category.
Then there are the words no one will say, not publicly anyway. And no, sex is not one of them. Quite the opposite. When once sex was considered private, something not to be discussed in mixed company, now sex and all its parts are fair game, not only for discussion but for comedic source material.
So what is this forbidden S word, if not sex?
No one wants to talk about sin in public. You won’t hear sin come up on Dr. Phil or David Letterman or Saturday Night Live.
Saying that someone sins is considered judgmental, the worst kind of accusation today. Someone who is judgmental is intolerant, which is tantamount to saying he is a perpetrator of hate crimes.
Yet sin does the greatest damage to a soul, a family, a business, a community, a government. Its consequences are deep, hurtful, and lasting. Lasting. As in, eternal. Apart from the forgiveness of Christ, sin damages whatever it touches.
It’s behind terrorism, behind sex trafficking, pedophilia, first degree murder, corporate greed, government corruption, HIV/AIDS, welfare fraud — in other words, it’s behind all the problems society wants to eradicate.
But nobody wants to talk about it.
Not even Christians.
When we do, we are deemed unloving, accused of being gleeful when we point the finger at sinful behavior, and even of rejoicing at the idea that people will be condemned to hell.
How ironic. Today it’s considered more loving to let people walk off a cliff in blissful ignorance than it is to shout out warnings for them to stop and turn around.
But the culture in Jeremiah’s day was no different. When he started pronouncing the warnings God charged him with, saying that Babylon would come and capture Judah, he was accused of treason. His life was threatened on more than one occasion, and eventually he was arrested.
People even came to him and said, What are you hearing from God? When he told them, they said he was making it up. At one point a group of them accused his assistant of getting Jeremiah to say negative prophecies against them.
The real issue wasn’t Jeremiah. It was God and His word. Those people did not want to submit to God’s authority. They wanted to go their own way.
At one point, Jeremiah told them, from God, to surrender to the Babylonian king. If they would wave the white flag, they would go into captivity but they would not die.
They refused, and a year and a half later when they were under siege and were starving to the point of eating their own dung, of cannibalizing their dead, they still did not bow to God’s direction.
Their defeat was total.
The king who would not follow the word the Lord delivered by Jeremiah, witnessed the murder of all his sons, and then his own eyes were blinded. He ended his days in a Babylonian dungeon.
All the nobles, priests, officials, scribes, anyone of standing who had not been killed were carried away into exile. Shockingly, the total number of people taken was only 4,600.
Over 600,000 people had migrated from Egypt during the exodus, but instead of growing and prospering, their number peaked out in David’s rule and then began to decline.
But to drop as low as less than 5,000? Did they never think to ask God what was wrong? Did they never consider that perhaps the prophets were right?
Or had they stopped listening to the prophets? Was sin already a dirty word, and they no longer talked about such things openly? And if anyone dared to be so bold as to stand on the street and tell people to repent, perhaps those walking by would avert their eyes and hurry toward home.
After all, who would use the forbidden S word in public? For shame!