The reason for this question is that our youth today are often confused by the difference between legality and morality. The devil has done his job pretty well convincing our society that so many behaviors should not be avoided that rather than address the morality of such behaviors as prostitution, hard moral questions are considered from the perspective of legality and freedom. True, we are all free to participate in any behavior whether or not the Lord desires it and I am in no position to force anyone to love God and live by His commandments. Thus: legality and freedom!
But with freedom comes responsibility. Just as anyone in our American society is “free” to take money from someone else’s cash register, there are consequences to that behavior – jail time. In working with teens especially I have found the line between legal and moral just as fuzzy as could be. Young people speak of smoking cigarettes with the same candor and gravity as they do drinking and sex. For a minor all three are illegal and, in the minds of many teenagers, therefore equal in gravity. You see now why I picked the title?
Would any teenager discuss the “sin” of smoking cigarettes fifty years ago or the sin of “just one drink” when they were working their daddy’s farm in the 19th Century? Times have changed and so has the perspective of sin and morality in our American society but God’s laws and commandments have not and will not change. What was against the will of God “then” is still against the will of God! Of course I must state the Orthodox Church does NOT teach that a simple drink is sinful.
The manner in which we live is a direct reflection of the love we have for God. The more we love God, the more we love ourselves. Why else would Saint Paul give husbands the command to, “love their own wives as their own bodies?” (Ephesians 5.28) Saint Paul continues, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” (Ephesians 5.29)
But we do damage to our own bodies every day with such behaviors as prostitution and dangerous sexual acts. What makes things worse is that the devil has convinced us that legal means moral. I hear it too often, “But Father, it’s not illegal….” Time is crucial, before we lose more of our children and they leave the Church in search of happiness and fulfillment. The Prodigal Son did that once. (see Luke 15) and he found starvation and suffering and emptiness. That what awaits us too if we don’t take our moral arguments back away from the legal system and teach our children (and live it ourselves as adults) that God has a plan for us. He has a desire for us to live a certain way. He has saved us from the emptiness and pain of the world.
As school starts in a few weeks and our children are returned to the temptation of society from sunrise to sunset, bring them to the Church and invite them to spend time with the priest attend confession and get supplied with the spiritual tools they will need to remain focused upon Him this school year.