This week my wife has been out of town for an annual national convention in connection with her work. This year's gathering has taken Cheryl to a city that neither she nor I have visited before -- Las Vegas.
Before she left, as she spoke about her trip, it seemed to engender envy and excitement in some people. But I must confess that Vegas has never been high on my list of vacation destinations.
It might be nice to drive through to see the sights, but that would probably be more than enough to satisfy my curiosity about the place. Maybe it has something to do with its reputation of being a "sin city."
Some of us had joked with my wife about behaving herself while she's there, although my mother wasn't exactly being helpful when she gave Cheryl $1.25 to play the slot machines in her behalf. Inevitably, whenever the conversation turned toward what my wife might or might not do on her trip, someone would bring up the well-worn motto, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."
While that may be an interesting saying to promote the idea that people can indulge guilt-free in the various vices that are offered in that place, I'm afraid it gives a false assurance. No matter where we've gone or what we've done, if we did something we shouldn't have done, we know it, God knows about it, and it will often adversely affect the people around us.
Think about one of the most infamous sin cities in the Bible -- Sodom. I wonder if the people there had a similar attitude, that "Whatever happens in Sodom stays in Sodom"?
If they did, they certainly found out differently. God showed in a dramatic manner that He knew about the wickedness of that place, sending fire and brimstone to destroy it. That divine destruction not only affected Sodom, but many of the surrounding cities.
I wonder if King David thought, "Whatever happens in the privacy of my home stays in the privacy of my home"? Such a concept might have especially seemed true for a ruler in the royal residence. So when David took another man's wife there and committed adultery with her, he may have thought that was the end of the matter.
But it wasn't long before God's prophet confronted him with his sin. On top of that, the innocent child who was conceived through that union ended up dying as one of the results of this immoral act. David discovered that there is no hidden and guilt-free immorality. Sinful acts have their consequences.
Let's make sure that we aren't deceiving ourselves with a similar notion. Maybe we think that whatever we do outside of church or out of the sight of the preacher is somehow acceptable. Maybe we think it's OK to "let loose" and do whatever we want to do when we're out of town and in a place where no one knows us.
Or maybe we think that what we do when the doors are shut and the blinds are closed goes unseen or doesn't impact anyone but ourselves.
Or maybe we adhere to the motto, "Whatever happens on the Internet stays on the Internet."
God's standards don't change simply because we're in Vegas or because no one else is around to see what we're doing. God knows about it. We know about it. And any immoral behavior in our lives does carry consequences that can affect the people around us.
So let's be committed to godly living no matter where we are -- even in Las Vegas, Sodom, or our own living rooms.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.