Without a sense of direction, compass, or map, it’s easy for people to get lost. Without a destination in mind, in fact, they may likely wander aimlessly for an indefinite period.

It’s no surprise, then, that the moral direction of Americans is in a downward spiral, according to two new Gallup polls released this month.

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These polls found that Americans believe the following issues that have been historically considered controversial are now morally acceptable: using birth control (91 percent); getting divorced (73 percent); sex between an unmarried man and woman (69 percent); gay or lesbian relations (63 percent); having a baby outside of marriage (62 percent); having an abortion (43 percent); sex between teenagers (36 percent); pornography (36 percent); polygamy (17 percent); and extramarital affairs (9 percent).

Yet the amazing news is that Jesus paid the unpayable debt.

The Bible is often viewed by today’s mainstream society as old-fashioned or unrealistic. Its rules and wisdom are treated as fairy tales at best and intolerant at worst. It may be easy to blame this lack of morality on others — perhaps those who walk in such waywardness — but it is important to accept that the Christian church and its members carry some responsibility. In an effort to embrace all people and their choices, God’s truth is often shadowed by lukewarm conviction. Truth is concealed in the name of love.

Love is not the same as acceptance. Love is the acknowledgement of danger, the need for discipline, and the act of repentance and forgiveness. And love still prevails. So often moral issues are tentatively shrugged off as other people’s choices. But without the education or the consequences for those particular choices, where is the love? If a person attempts to get behind the wheel of a car while drunk, should that person’s friends allow that choice to be made?

Of course not! Intervention is necessary to prevent catastrophe.

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Extramarital sex comes with serious consequences. There are emotional connections that were never meant to be made outside of scriptural marriage. Children born outside of wedlock are certainly created and loved by the same God who forms those born to a happily married couple — but it is still not God’s ideal. Abortion means the end of a growing, thriving life that carries a physical and emotional burden rarely discussed. Truth must be taught with love, but there is no love without truth.

Without the guidelines God lays out in scripture, people are left to drift hopelessly and destructively. Isaiah 53:6 prophecies: “We, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

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The only direction apart from God is astray. People are incapable of charting a course for morality separate from God.

But the amazing news is that Jesus paid the unpayable debt. In John 8, the Pharisees and teachers of the law brought forth a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They asked Jesus what her punishment should be. Jesus challenged the woman’s accusers, saying that any one of them who was without sin should cast the first stone. They had the right by the Old Testament law to stone a woman for her immorality — but Jesus’ wisdom and grace offered redemption instead of condemnation.

Then the Savior of the World turned to the adulteress woman, forgave her, and told her to leave her life of sin.

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God miraculously and graciously offers forgiveness. He has the authority to judge and the wisdom to instruct. There is no love in reinterpreting or editing His directions. He has the ability to provide hope in the midst of the darkest consequence — but the heartache for such rebellion is still apparent. And it is the responsibility of Christians everywhere to know and share the truth of God’s word.

Through Jesus, people have the opportunity for forgiveness and salvation. He bore the cross that each person should be condemned to carry. He lived a blameless life to offer Himself as a pure sacrifice on behalf of all mankind. But without that moral anchor of faith, hope for peace and blessing is nothing more than a distant dream forever, tossed away by the current of self-destruction.

Katie Nations, married for 15 years, is a working mother of three young children. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.