We have seen that the devil baits his hook with sinful pleasures, and then, when the hapless sinner bites, he gives a deft tug on the hook of accusation. Now the fish might well protest, when being hauled into the boat of condemnation by the ruthless fisherman, that the worm was not his idea. “Why are you blaming me for what was your idea?” comes the protest. The reply is that this is how it is done. It’s called fishing.
“For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed” (2 Cor. 12:20-21).
So there are two kinds of lists here. The first contains the words swellings and tumults, which kind of gives you the idea, and the second is a shorter list that has to do with sexual uncleanness. But how are these two related? Notice that Paul is concerned that when he arrives he will be confronted with the presenting problem, which I can sum up in my own words — snark, biting, fits, frenzies, backstabbing, quarreling, and devouring. In short, a spirit of accusation fills the room. Those are the splotches the doctor will look at on the skin while he says hmmmm. The doctor will then turn to the deep cause of the problem, which turns out to be unrepented sexual sin.
Guilt hurts, and the best defense is a good offense. Before you get accused, make sure to accuse. Guilt hurts, and the person carrying it staggers under the weight of condemnation. But all men instinctively understand that there are two categories of men in this fallen world — justified and unjustified — and they want to be in the justified class. There are only two possible bases of justification — one is the blood of Christ which frees us from accusation, and the other is relative superiority to somebody else, which binds us to accusation.
So then, bound to accusation, they still have this weight of guilt. They have been sleeping around, ditching women, paying for abortions, abandoning children for some twinkie they met on the Internet, and all for the sake of that ultimate snipe hunt, the orgasm they believe they so richly deserve.
Like U2, they still haven’t found what they are looking for, and now they don’t have it while under a pile of tangled condemnation. Their conscience won’t shut down or shut up. What happens next is that they lurch into idiotic moral crusades that enable them to accuse those who don’t yet recycle, or who don’t give up their guns, or who won’t vote for those who will save us all from climate change. They stand in line at Starbucks, and ostentatiously ask for their hot coffee to NOT be double-cupped, and they ALSO forego the protective sleeve, and all for the sake of “saving resources.” The world stands back in wonder, for a moral paragon walks among us.
This is why denunications of those on the oppositie side of political disputes get progressively shriller, harsher, and more accusative. And why more accusative? It is because everybody is going to the devil. When disputes get to tea-kettle screeching levels, you may depend upon it — there has been a good bit of messing around in the wrong beds. And though the examples given above are most clearly seen in “progressive” crusades and causes (for they are the ones who have actually championed free love), so-called conservatives can and do display the same sexual-guilt-driven-snarls. These sexual snarls then result in bared teeth and the other kind of snarling.
Back in day the mantra was “make love, not war.” It was the day of false alternatives, like split wood, not atoms. I remember responding to that with a bumper sticker that was every bit as much to the point, which read “split atoms, not infinitives.” As with many false alternatives, a scam was being run. It was not “make love, not war,” but “make love, then war.” That subsequent war was declared, and since then there has been unrelenting hostility directed toward marriage, children in utero, children who made it through that gauntlet, heterosexuality, family, love, fidelity, femininity, masculinity, and the perfect law of liberty.
And this is why our long-gone civil discourse is in fact long-gone. This is why we look around and see little more than debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, and tumults. The saying goes, “the devil loves to fish in troubled waters.” This is true, but the trouble starts with the fishing.