Absolute Power Part I
"The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?"1
A few short years ago we witnessed the devastating moral degeneracy of prison guards in Iraq in the pictures from the Abu Ghraib prison camp in Iraq. And while this tragic event doesn't represent the vast majority of U.S. servicemen and women, it does graphically reveal the depravity of the human heart.
An even more frightening report comes from Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley who wrote, "In 1971, Dr. Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues conducted an experiment in the basement of Stanford's psychology building. After creating a simulated prison, they randomly assigned twenty-four Stanford students to be either guards or prisoners.
"Within a few days, the students playing guards had become sadistic. They placed bags over the 'prisoners' heads. They forced them to strip naked and subjected them to humiliating sexual pranks.
"Students from one of America's most prestigious schools descended into barbarism at an alarming speed. Zimbardo was forced to end the experiment less than a week after it began.
"As the nineteenth-century Christian statesman Lord Acton famously put it, power will corrupt."2 What Acton said: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are very often bad men." And being bad, or acting badly, is something we are all capable of being.
As God's Word says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" How tragic that, as a nation, more and more, we not only ignore God's Word, but do all in our power to get rid of it, along with God, from every avenue of public life. Indeed, we have sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. Unless we turn back to God and live in harmony with his ways, we will continue to see increased tragedies and an ever-increasing moral decay of our nation, and a further disintegration of the very foundation upon which this country was built.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, as a nation we have sinned grievously by turning from you and choosing to go our own sinful and selfish ways. Have mercy on us and send a great spiritual awakening before evil and terrorism get right out of hand—and let your work begin in me. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV).
2. Mark Earley, BreakPoint, Charles Colson Commentary #040510 www.breakpoint.org.