Be careful what you permit (2 Kings 15-16)

Be careful what you permit (2 Kings 15-16)

Have you heard of the “slippery slope” argument? It is the assertion that if you permit one thing, that will lead to other things being permitted. You see this kind of argument used every time a new type of law is introduced. There are those who think that this argument is flawed, that permitting one thing doesn’t necessarily have bigger consequences. Yet there is a case to be made that starting in a certain direction will mean that direction will continue. We see it illustrated in 2 Kings 15 and 16.

2 Kings 15 gives a brief summary of the reigns of seven kings, two of whom are from Judah, the southern kingdom. Azariah and his son Jotham are given much the same assessment from God. They both worshipped the true God, albeit with major problems. They did nothing about the high places where their people worshipped in a way that God had outlawed. They permitted this false worship, despite it being something God hated. When Jotham died, his son Ahaz came to the throne of Judah (2 Kings 16). Ahaz was assessed more harshly by God as someone who did not do what was right. He worshipped all kinds of other gods. And instead of permitting the worship at the high places, Ahaz participated in this kind of worship himself (v4). What his father and grandfather permitted for others, Ahaz did himself. His ancestors would have been horrified at what Ahaz ended up doing.

We see the same kind of thing happen in churches. If a church moves from the infallibility of Scripture, holding to most of it being true but with a few exceptions, that generation might generally still hold to traditional Christian beliefs. Yet the next generation of that church is likely to lean in a far more liberal direction, rejecting more and more of what the Bible clearly teaches. Once one exception has been permitted, there is little logical reason not to expand this to more exceptions.

It’s not only churches though; I have seen this in families. A family who generally goes to church but is happy to not go if there is a better offer would probably think that they are committed to the church family. After all, they go most of the time. Yet it is common for their children to have a lower view of church involvement than they do. If other things can trump church, then a busy time at school means church can be missed. An important football game on TV means church can be missed. And before long, church is more of an option rather than something important. There is truth to the slippery slope argument.

The takeaway point for all of us is this: be careful what you permit. It is the first step in a certain direction that might well be the crucial one. Drifting away from your family devotions leads in a certain direction. Allowing some sin in your life and not doing anything about it will lead to greater sin in the future. It is much easier to stop things when they are smaller. Let’s serve God with all our hearts and be careful not to step aside to the right or to the left.