This past Wednesday night we completed our 4 week focus on Morality. We took a look at an Old Testament text, Genesis 39:1-10, where Joseph had found favor in his Egyptian master's (Potiphar) house. This was all well and good until Potiphar's wife became attracted to Joseph. She cornered him and asked him to sleep with her. We can learn a lot from Joseph's response to this opportunity to please himself and his reasoning for not engaging her.
Joseph told her that Potiphar had entrusted him with everything…that no one in Potiphar's house was greater than he. In fact, the ONLY thing withheld from Joseph was the master's wife. Joseph told her that she should not ask him to do such a wicked thing…that it would be a sin against - are you ready for it… God!
Joseph builds his case with the master's wife by stating all that he has been given and entrusted in Potiphar's house. The next logical statement would be that he would not want to sin against this earthly master who had so blessed and trusted him. But that wasn't the case at all; Joseph did not want to sin against God.
I shared with your students that we tend to get the object of our sin wrong. We think about how it affects other people we care about or how it affects us when, actually, we should focus on the fact that the One we are sinning against is the One who has pre-wired within us to know what sin is in the first place. Since God has already predefined what is sacred to Him - THAT is the measure we are to use to guide our actions.
I attempted to make the point more clearly by attaching it to a figure in history - Hitler. Consider the heinous nature of all of the killing that happened under Hitler. It would be easy for us to look at his actions and judge Hitler by labeling his sin as having happened "to" the Jews. That assessment of his actions, however, would be incomplete. The subject of Hitler's wrath (Jews and other ethnicities) did not give human life value - God did. We have worth and value for one reason - God has given it to us.
So when we look at Hitler's actions, we are certainly distracted by the cruelty of it against humanity; our hearts ache for the over 6 million people who were annihilated by him. Yet his sin was not against them - Hitler's sin was that he violated 6 MILLION TIMES what God considered to be sacred. He violated what God considered to be sacred 6 MILLION TIMES! That is what made the killing "morally" wrong - that the "Moral Law Giver" had declared it to be wrong. And that declaration comes from His very being…from His character…from who He is.
I suggested to your students that we should consider this when faced with moral decisions. Every action or reaction has with it a consequence - sometimes good and sometimes bad. But if we look at our actions with the mindset of consequences to us or others, our view is, at best, incomplete. We have to consider that our actions, when in violation of what we know to be morally right, are violations against what God has declared to be sacred. After all, He is the "Who" behind our internal moral compass.