Noah for Grown-ups

This morning I preached from Genesis 6:9-22. It is the opening of the flood narrative. I prefer “flood narrative” to “Noah and the Ark” because the later has taken on the aura of a children’s fable. It has become the stuff of sappy movies and wallpaper borders. The church has taken a largely Mother Goose approach to the story of the flood conjuring images of cute polar bears boarding the ark. The fact is, however, that the story of Noah and the ark is one of the most terrifying in Scripture. It is the most extreme outpouring of God’s wrath upon the earth in human history. It may well remain so until the final judgment. Far from being a cuddly tale it is a sobering account of God’s awful justice.

I am struck by the description of the world in verse 11. It says that the world was full of corruption and violence. Corruption can be a pretty broad description of a culture in decay, particularly moral decay. Violence, however, is something with which we are all too familiar. We live in the most violent nation in the western world. We are the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the planet. We are also knee deep in blood. In Wichita we tolerate a notorious late term abortionist who celebrates the yearly anniversary of Roe vs. Wade by providing free abortions. This man plies his bloody trade under the protection of the same government that would close him down if he were killing kittens.

When I think about examples like the one above I cannot help but recall what Paul writes in Romans chapter one. He describes the unregenerate and their natural downward trajectory. It begins with the distortion of truth and ends with extremes of sexual degradation. These are the signs of a people that have been given over by God to their basest desires. This “giving over” is the sure sign of God’s judgment.

In his book Losing Our Virtue theologian David Wells quotes research from a fascinating study called The Day America Told the Truth. Wells writes:
“Americans stand alone in a way unknown to any previous generation. They are alone, not least because they are without any objective moral compass. ‘The religious figures and Scriptures that gave us rules for so many centuries, the political system which gave us laws, all have lost their meaning in our moral imagination.’ While the great majority of Americans believe that they actually keep the 10 Commandments, only 13% think that each of these commandments has moral validity. It is no surprise to learn that 74% said they will steal without compunction; 64% say they will lie if there is an advantage to be had in doing so; 53% say that given a chance they will commit adultery…What may be the clearest indication of the disappearance of a moral texture to society is the loss of guilt and embarrassment over moral lapses…Only 17% define sin as a violation of God’s will” (pp. 58-59).