Recently, I’ve been struggling with the challenge of communicating. Oh no, I can still talk. Why, I even said something a couple weeks ago that got a hairbrush thrown at me.
(I have a big mouth.)
But, there’s something on my mind that I’m having trouble getting out, and it’s all about the decline of America. It’s a giant topic and very complex, and it just doesn’t fit easily through the narrow pipe that is the written language. And, when I chop it down into smaller pieces, it still doesn’t seem to fit. So, instead of throwing concepts and ideas at you, I’m going to talk about me and what ‘me’ has seen.
I was born just three months before the unification of Jerusalem by Israeli forces in 1967, and it was the height of the Cold War. I didn’t see much of that war, but I, like the rest of my generation was affected by it.
It seems like every generation gets engaged in a fight to the death between liberty and oppression. My grandparents fought oppression in Europe, Asia and North Africa. My great grand parents did the same in France, and my great great grandparents… well, I’m not quite sure what they were up to, but fighting probably had something to do with it.
The Cold War was… interesting. It was all about US versus THEM, and we were mobilized by the idea that liberty and freedom and justice must win and would win. We were committed to making it happen.
But, it seems to me that each time we have been challenged to fight in the war of good vs. evil, we’ve been slower and slower to grasp the handle and the steering wheel. We jumped straight into the Civil War and fought hard to remove the awful stain of slavery from our midst. We hesitated a bit before jumping into World War I, but we jumped in all the same. We hesitated even more before World War II, but the Japanese presented a convincing argument and off to war we went. The threat of Communism backed by nuclear weapons scared us to death, and we spent a lot of time nervously sitting on our hands. Now, we are at war again, and we’re doing more than just hesitating. I’m not even sure that we know who the ‘good guys’ are.
Every time she went to war, America changed. She became less religious, less spiritual and less reliant on what the US Declaration of Independence called Divine Providence. We drifted away from God and the character that He has called us to have. We fled the restrictions of sexual morality, and we produced bastard children everywhere we went. And, as our moral compass continued to fail, we brought the scourge of drug abuse.
Our grandparents brought the sexuality that they learned in Europe and Korea and changed our society. Our parents brought home from Vietnam even more, and now? Now, I don’t even know what we’re doing.
But, make no mistake. It wasn’t war that did this. War was just the opportunity for the fertile ground our culture had become. After all, colleges do much the same.
How many bright young kids went off to college and came back damaged? In one sense, all of them – to varying degrees. I remember being in my senior year, wanting to graduate so that I could start cleaning out all the garbage that my university education had dumped into me.
There was one other thing that I remember about college. As I began my junior year in the Fall of 1986, I remember seeing the new batch of students come in and realizing just how much I stood at the crossroads of two generations. The previous generation at least knew what morality was before they chose to reject it. But, this batch that were flooding in? They didn’t know what morality was (and they still don’t).
As I was growing up, my country went from rejecting morals to not knowing what morals were. Within a short space of forty some years, the United States had gone from being immoral to amoral.
And, I see the same being repeated in our churches. We still know what morality is, but we’ve decided that it’s not important. Worse, I see churches losing sight of morality and following in the footsteps of the nation.
Kelly Clinger wrote in her blog last January:
I find it interesting that the abortion, promiscuity and pregnancy rates are no different among Christian girls than any other group.
While I believe that Mrs. Clinger wasn’t minimizing the problem, I find her observation more than interesting. It’s horrifying.
When I left for Israel in 1992, I was a single guy, passionate about meeting single girls – the godly kind. Maybe I was a bit behind the times, but it seemed like the question on everyone’s mind in Indiana was, “do you kiss on the first date?” (It was certainly on MY mind.) When I limped back to the US, 14 years later, I found that the question on everyone’s mind had changed. It was “do you sleep with someone on the first date?” And, I was shocked to find it on the minds of church-goers, too.
What has happened to our churches? Not long after I came back in 2006, someone once told me that the average person without faith in the 1940s was more honest and more moral than the average church-going Christian today.
How far we have fallen.
How many of us have noticed how difficult it has become to rent or buy a DVD that wasn’t ‘uncut’? Have you noticed how bad the TV shows have become? I did, but I was gone for 14 years and returned to see the change.
Back in the 1950s, what they saw as pornography… well, today we see it as just good advertizing.
I began by talking about the conflict between liberty and oppression. Let me end this rather rambling piece with a few words from two who laid some of the foundation of America.
Only a moral and virtuous people are capable of freedom; the more corrupt and vicious a society becomes, the more it has need of masters.
“Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people. The general government . . . can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppresive form so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people.”