The Conflict Between Christianity and Secularism in the Area of Morals
America is no longer at a crossroads. We have been traveling down the wrong path for years. Many of our current societal problems stem from the dramatic shift in attitudes that occurred in the 1960s, a decade marked by the deification of freedom, and widespread rebellion against social institutions, traditional values and established authority. In the last thirty years, many of the central institutions of our society (including the judicial, educational, welfare and mental health systems) have become permeated with the values of the Sixties. However, the idealistic dream of the 1960s has turned into a terrifying nightmare in the 1990s.
Our society has rejected the Bible as God's absolute standard. Cut loose from the anchor of biblical morality, modern man is adrift in a sea of relativity. Disorder, disintegration and chaos have inevitably followed. Let us consider several areas where the relative morals of secular-ism have brought us to the brink of ruin.
1. The Criminal Justice System
God ordained civil government to maintain an orderly society. The first responsibility of government is the swift and sure punishment of evildoers (Eccl. 8:11; Rom. 13:1-4). However, our modern judicial system is a complete failure. It coddles criminals! Judges appear more concerned with the "rights" of lawbreakers than the rights of innocent victims. As a result, crime and violence are at epidemic levels. In 1929 Chicago's St. Valentine's Day massacre shocked the nation when several gangsters were gunned down in a hail of bullets. Nowadays, this type violence is considered normal. On Valentine's Day in 1993, there were 12 homicides in New York City six in one Bronx apartment. "While population has increased only 41 percent since 1960, the violent crimes have in-creased more than 500 percent and total crimes have increased over 300 percent. The rate of violent crime in the U.S. is worse than in any other industrialized country. In addition, eight out of every ten Americans will be a victim of violent crime at least once in their lives." We have sown to the wind, and we are reaping the whirlwind!
2. The Educational System
Christ taught that religion should be a central part of our lives (Matt. 6:33; John 6:27). The fear of the Lord is the very foundation of knowledge and wisdom (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10). Yet, our modern educational system is governed by a humanistic philosophy that is opposed to religious belief and openly hostile to Christianity. God has been banned from the classroom. The Three R's have been replaced by the Three C's (Condom distribution, Clarification of values, and Courses in self-esteem). Instead of teaching children that 2+2=4, Joseph Fernandez, Chancellor of New York City Public Schools, proposed that first-graders be taught the "positive aspects" of homosexual families. Heather has Two Mommies and Daddy's Roommate were offered as suggested reading material for kindergartners. What is the result of this insanity? SAT scores have dropped steadily over the last 30 years. A recent survey revealed that nearly half the adults in America are functionally illiterate. The fundamentals of learning have been neglected. It should be obvious to all but the most blind adherents of the N.E.A. that our educational system is badly broken. Again, we have sown to the wind, and are reaping the whirlwind.
3. The Welfare System
The book of Proverbs affirms the need for personal diligence and industriousness (Prov. 6:6-11; 20:4, 24:30-34). The apostle Paul taught the importance of hard work and honest labor (1 Tim. 5:8; 2 Thess. 3:10-12). These Bible principles formed the basis of the "Protestant Ethic" that made our country great. However, today self-sufficiency has been replaced by government subsidy. Measured in constant 1990 dollars, welfare spending jumped from $28.9 billion in 1960 to $211.9 billion in 1990. Yet, despite its noble aspirations, our welfare state is a dismal failure. Why? Because it destroys the inner character of those it purports to help. Government should obviously provide assistance in certain situations, but people must learn to take responsibility for their own lives. Self-respect comes from carrying one's own weight. Unfortunately, public assistance, as it is practiced in our country, has created a permanent under-class, who are mired in poverty and despair. Again, we have sown to the wind, and are reaping the whirlwind.
4. The Family Unit
The Bible is quite clear in its teaching regarding marriage: God's ideal is one man and one woman for life (Gen. 2:23-24; Matt. 19:3-9). The roles of husbands, wives, parents and children are clearly delineated in the Scriptures. However, the family unit is under assault in America.
The number of divorces has increased nearly 200 percent in the last 30 years, while the percentage of people marrying is at an all-time low. This explosion in divorce has had a devastating effect on children. Less than 60 percent of all children today are living with both biological parents. The number of children living in single-parent homes has more than tripled in the last three decades. Today, 17 million children live in single-parent homes.
It is currently fashionable to glorify this trend toward single-parent families. Many would argue that divorce is invariably the best alternative to a bad marriage and that single parenthood carries no risk to children. Yet, as Mortimer Zuckerman says, "This selfish rationalization substitutes the happiness of the adult in our moral codes for the well-being of the children. Career and self-fulfillment have got ahead of caring responsibility. The results on children have been devastating. The developing child needs love, stability, constancy, harmony and permanency in family life. These needs have been casuistically sacrificed in the adult's quest for freedom, independence, and choice. The mantra should be this: Marriage matters."
In a recent article in Atlantic Monthly, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead summarizes much of the current research on the breakup of the family. She says that the social-science evidence is in. Though it might "benefit" the adults involved, the dissolution of intact two-parent families is harmful to large numbers of children. Furthermore, family diversity in the form of increasing numbers of single-parent and step-parent families does not strengthen the social fabric, but rather, dramatically weakens and undermines society. Again, we have sown to the wind, and are reaping the whirlwind.
5. Personal Morality
The decline in personal morality that our nation has experienced in recent years is almost breathtaking. The philosophy of situation ethics has permeated our culture. There are no limits, no rules, no standards. Like Israel of old, everyone is a law unto themselves (Judg. 17:6; 21:25). Anything goes! If it feels good, do it! Deviancy has been redefined so as to make it appear normal. As a result, sexual promiscuity, teen pregnancy, abortion, alcoholism, and drug addiction are at epidemic levels.
The number of unmarried teenagers getting pregnant has nearly doubled in the past two decades. Rare in the early 1960s, by the late 1980s nearly one unmarried teenage girl in ten got pregnant. Since 1960, illegitimate births have in-creased by more than 400 percent. Only 5.3% of all births were out-of-wedlock in 1960, but by 1990, 28% of all births were illegitimate.
While the exact number of abortions performed before 1973 is unknown, today nearly one in four pregnancies end in abortion. There were 1.6 million abortions in 1990. Since the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, there have been more than 28 million abortions in the United States. One-third of a generation has perished!
Left to his own devices, man always sinks to a lower level. Yet, through following the Bible, we are lifted up to a higher moral plain (Deut. 4:7-8; 10:12-13; Prov. 14:34). Unfortunately, men have turned a deaf ear towards the Scriptures. Again, we have sown to the wind, and are reaping the whirlwind.
6. The Entertainment Industry
The Bible stresses the value of wholesome entertainment and recreation (Ps. 23:1-2; Mk. 6:31-32; 1 Tim. 4:8). It affirms that lasting happiness can only be found through virtue and godliness (Ps. 1:1-6; Matt. 5:3-10; John 10:10). However, filth has invaded the television, movies, music, and many other forms of entertainment. The entertainment and advertising media exploit sex for sales and ratings. A recent survey revealed that 86% of all sex presented on prime-time programming on ABC, CBS and NBC is depicted outside marriage. Comedians think the only way to get a laugh is to drag their audience through a cesspool of crudeness and vulgarity. Film makers no longer believe they can entertain without filling the screen with wickedness and depravity. Truth and righteousness are ridiculed while sin and perversion are glorified. Again, we have sown to the wind, and are reaping the whirlwind.
Our society, having lost its religious and moral underpinnings, has become both amoral and immoral. Will Durant, the late world historian, effectively demonstrated that no nation in history has survived without a strong religious moral code. Yet, religion and morality are under relentless attack in the United States. As Chuck Colson said, "We are stripping religion away from public life to our great and everlasting peril. It is the most self-destructive process the nation could embark on. We are trying to erase the indispensable role of religion in informing the moral consensus by which civilized society has survived. We live in a post-Christian age. We have embarked into a `brave new world' without moral directions, of values erased from teaching, of tolerance elevated above truth. . . We're no longer neutral about religion but hostile to religion. On almost every front there is an increasing secularizing of America." Unfortunately, the process continues unabated. Those who now control the reigns of government hold to a philosophy that will only exacerbate the situation. We stand on the brink of an evil abyss.
How long will this evil be allowed to continue? We cannot say. Man can barely discern the present, while God can see the end from the beginning. Creatures limited by time and space cannot understand the doings of an infinite Creator, except as he chooses to reveal himself to us (Deut. 29:29; Isa 55:8-9). However, we do know that God does not allow sin to go unpunished. The Old Testament teaches that, when a people persist in wickedness, divine chastisement becomes inevitable. If our nation continues its downward spiral into immorality, he will most certainly deal with us as he dealt with the nations of antiquity.
What then can we do? Let your light shine. Point the way to God. Raise your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Withstand the temptations of the devil. Renounce the corrupt influence of our deforming culture. Keep your eye on the goal: Through the eye of faith, look past the bleak future of man's increasing wickedness to that glorious eternity which God has promised to the faithful.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 3, p. 3-4