If You Give a Mouse a Cookie . . . Secularism’s Road to Nowhere


One of my favorite books to read to my children is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. In the story a young boy is taken on a humorous progression by the consequences of each thing he gives to the mouse. First the mouse wants a cookie, but as a result of the cookie he needs a glass of milk, then a straw (to drink his milk), then a mirror (to make sure he doesn’t have a milk mustache), then he needs a haircut, a broom for the hair, a nap, and paper to draw a picture. After finishing the picture he wants to hang it on the fridge; which prompts him to ask for a glass of milk and a cookie to go with it. In the story the chain of events picks up a funny cadence to show the compounding effect of one decision. Culturally we are seeing the compounding effect of our collective decisions. The cycle seems to be churning along with surprising advances. What was morally unthinkable a generation or two ago (and throughout most of human history), is now enshrined in the town square of our identity.

Unlike the children’s story the cycle is neither humorous nor good for us. There is something of a stinger in the tail of our progressive thinking today. And it is sadly ironic. Billing itself as something that is good for humanity many of the advances actually diminish human dignity and flourishing.


The pro-choice movement holds itself out as a catalyst for women’s rights. The argument is that a woman has the right to choose what she can do to her body; she has autonomy and authority over herself. Unbound by external authority, she is free to legally kill the child that is growing within her. Of course, as a proud progressive culture that is so capable of duplicitous compartmentalization and incapable of any moral blushing, we use far more sanitary terms such as “terminate the pregnancy.”


Over the last 18 months or so there have been many stories in the news about gender. The conversation has gotten so loud that the states or individuals who seem to disagree with the distinctions that have governed human history are considered barbaric bigots who hate. Some states are feeling the sanctions by progressive businesses. Meanwhile, we seem to be moving from one discussion to the next about people’s gender (or lack of gender) and where they shower or relieve themselves. Governed by a desire to ensure that everyone’s rights are properly considered and protected, lawmakers are scrambling to keep up with the increasing demands for statutes to protect and promote the fluidity of the current gender discussion.

Same-Sex Marriage

It is difficult to understate the effect (both short and long-term) of last summer’s Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States. The institution of marriage, the bedrock of society throughout human history, has been redefined. The new normal is celebrated as an advancement in the inclusion of basic rights for all people.

I am not breaking any news here to say that these three examples deviate from biblical teaching. However, I want to point out why they diverge from biblical teaching and what is being lost in our race for these rights.

Stinger in the Tail

The champions of the causes above will point to the benefit of the individuals involved. If anyone opposed or denied these rights then they are opposing basic human rights. A woman has rights over the growing child within, people the right to determine their own gender, and people have the right to define marriage however they want. In order to do this we have to sever the tie to the biblical teaching on these subjects. And here is the stinger in the tail: when you cut the tie to the authority of God then you also collapse the foundation for the dignity of humanity in the first place. In other words, the secular pursuit of human flourishing is a fool’s errand apart from the biblical framework of God as our Creator. The Bible teaches us that mankind was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28) and crowned with glory and honor (Ps. 8:5). Secularism wants to cut the cord of biblical authority. When they do, they end up dangling in no-man’s land. Floating in mid-air there is no grounding for the basis for any human dignity. But this is a minor concern. People are not ultimately concerned about dignity, after all, they want autonomy. What we really want is the authority to make our own calls. We want to be in the place of God, making the rules, determining gender, giving and taking life.

But noticed how it is packaged. We hear a lot about identity, joy, dignity, significance, and authenticity. These things are all good and admirable aspirations. In fact they are common to all of us. However, the road that secularism has chosen to take cannot bring us home. It can’t get us there. Once we cut the tie to our Creator we lose the source of transcendent blessing. We lose the basis of true joy, dignity, and significance. Aiming to be free we end up enslaved to what the cultural influencers tell us to believe. But they are caught in the same closed system.

However, the Bible teaches us that we have true dignity, glory, and honor by virtue of the fact that we are created in God’s image. Prior to anything we do (or discover) we are significant. Freedom then comes when we rest in, not resist, God’s design and authority.

The moral revolution is restlessly speeding ahead, attempting to find personal significance. However, in arrogant haste the tie to biblical authority has been cut. They did not realize that this tie provided the actual framework for what they say they seek. The secular elites keep giving the mouse a cookie, and we keep moving further and further away from the source.