This analogy probably wasn’t George Barna’s in the first place, but he brought it to my attention with the title of his book The Frog in the Kettle. The idea is that if you drop a frog into a shallow kettle of boiling water, the frog won’t die. It will react to the heat and jump right out again. If, on the other hand, you place that frog in a kettle of cool or lukewarm water and then gradually turn up the heat, the frog is doomed. It will be comfortable to start with, and then just keep acclimating to the increased heat until it is too late to jump out. Death is slow but certain.
I was still a kid when the Roe v. Wade decision made abortion on demand the law of the land. I really didn’t get it at first and later wondered how such incredible moral change could have come to us out of the blue. I got the impression that, like the frog in the kettle, Christians never saw it coming. When the Obergefell v. Hodges decision came down last June, I was out of the country. By the time I got back to the U.S., the initial furor had died down. Again, this sudden moral change is shocking! How did we get here?
Ask the frog in the kettle! Changes were gradually taking place in government policy, in education, in the media. The heat was being turned up. We were vaguely aware of it, but it wasn’t painful enough to elicit the widespread response that might have turned the heat back down. We realize now that the Supreme Court has not changed our moral culture; it has simply recognized the changes that have already—gradually—taken place.
A worrisome thought: We don’t really know if the kettle is boiling yet. Is there more to come? Either way, we must respond now.
As God’s people collectively, we have God’s invitation to repent: “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Such repentance requires acknowledgement that this is not just their sin—it’s our sin.
As God’s people individually, you and I need to ask, “What kettle am I living in?” Perhaps Obergefell v. Hodges is our personal wake-up call to smell the soup we’re swimming in. If it smells like frog soup, that’s a very bad sign.
Corporate repentance is one thing, a necessary thing, but true repentance starts at home. In your heart and mine.
Rev. Brent Juliot edits Faith & Fellowship magazine, teaches math at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, and serves as pastor at Stavanger Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, MN.