Chalcedon Report No. 379, February 1997
I no sooner learned to read than I began reading the Bible. It was for me a wonderful adventure into realms of amazing stories, awe-inspiring laws, and new words. One new word that especially caught my attention was abomination. I once counted the various forms of the word used in the Bible, close to two hundred.
The word told me that God wants us to regard certain things with a holy dread. These included idolatry, lawlessness, unclean foods, moral irresponsibility, and more.
In some instances, as in Ezekiel 7:3ff., God declares that the corrupt life of the nation is an abomination to Him, and He will bring judgment on the whole people because they have become a people without shame. A people without shame are a disgraced people who find virtue in their shame. A people without shame are blinded by their sin.
When I was young, the word shameless was commonly used to describe people who flaunted their sin as though it were a virtue. It describes much of our culture now, and too many people.
Similarly, a sense of guilt is no longer prominent in our culture because sin has been denied and guilt is seen, in Freudian terms, as simply a relic of a primordial past.
Guilt and shame have been replaced by self-esteem, a highly prized late twentieth-century virtue. Self-esteem goes hand in hand with irresponsibility and victimhood. When Adam was confronted by God with his sin, his answer was to blame God and the woman: “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Gen. 3:12). Adam saw himself as the innocent victim of a conspiracy by God and Eve! Eve’s response was similar; she was a poor innocent woman who was beguiled by the evil one (Gen. 3:13). Self-esteem goes
hand in hand with irresponsibility because it presupposes man’s natural goodness. Given this good, or, at worst, neutral state of man’s moral being, it then follows that when man does wrong something outside him is to blame.
But this moral goodness, or moral neutrality, of man is basic to humanism. As a result, sin and evil are due to things outside man, God, nature, the family, the environment, and so on and on. Humanism leads inevitably to a morally irresponsible society. We read of AIDS “victims,” as though they are casualties of a war!
The word abomination tells us that God requires us to view certain things with a holy dread because they destroy the moral fabric of men and society. But the word abomination has become almost obsolete outside the Bible, and the holy dread of offending God is all but gone. People who claim to be Christians can disagree casually with what God has said on a variety of things as though the Bible is only ratified and valid when a man agrees with it! This, too, is an abomination.
We need to take stock of ourselves. If what God calls an abomination is a matter of indifference to us, something is seriously wrong with us, not with God nor the Bible. Are we making of ourselves an abomination in God’s sight?
We should regard every instance of the use of the word in Scripture as a warning from God.
- R. J. Rushdoony
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.
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