By Lewis Willis
A front-page article in the Akron Beacon Journal (4-29-91) reported the findings of a national survey on the moral codes of Americans. The article, by Bob Dart, was based on information from a 270-page book entitled, The Day America Told the Truth -What People Really Believe About Everything That Really Matters. The book was written by James Patterson and Peter Kim. Two thousand people at each of 50 locations across the country responded to their questionnaires in privacy. The findings were startling.
Here are some quotations from Dart’s Article. “Americans are making up their own rules and laws, the book concluded. . . We choose which laws of God we believe. There is absolutely no moral consensus in this country – as there was in the 1950s and 1960s. . . Religion plays almost no role in shaping most lives, the study found. . . Americans have lost faith in the institution of marriage, the survey showed. Nearly a third of the married respondents weren’t sure they still loved their spouses. . . Nine out of ten Americans lie regularly. . . Nearly a third of all married Americans have had an affair. . . A fifth of the nation’s children have lost their virginity by age 13 . . . For $ 10 million, 7 percent of the people would kill a stranger.”
The respondents were asked to list “The Ten Sleaziest Ways to Make a Living. ” The top four were: (1) Drug Dealer, (2) Organized crime Boss, (3) TV Evangelist, (4) Prostitute. If there was ever any doubt about the effect the Jim Bakkers and Jimmy Swaggarts have had on the public, this survey settles the question. They are regarded as worse than a prostitute! Make no mistake about it, religion in general has gotten a “black eye” from the escapades of these two characters. It is going to require an Herculean effort to reverse the damage which has been done. We should all think about this as we consider the influence we have on others from day to day.
It should not surprise us to learn that “Americans are making up their own rules and laws” in establishing acceptable conduct. Religion has been writing its own laws for centuries. Every denomination that has written its own Creed has done religiously what people are doing morally.
The study found that “religion plays almost no role in shaping most lives.” This is evidently true, for it becomes more and more difficult to persuade people to consider the appeal of religion. We see evidence of some of this same attitude among brethren. It is difficult to get some who call themselves Christians to even assemble for worship.
What could be more disturbing than to learn that people have “lost faith in the institution of marriage.” Every parent of a small child who will have to grow up and select a marriage partner must “shake in their boots” to hear of this development. Half of the marriages contracted today will end in divorce. If people have lost faith in marriage, what does the future hold? Parents and local churches, realizing what is happening, must concentrate special effort in teaching our young the Truth about marriage as God ordained it. Otherwise, the situation will worsen.
Basically, what is happening is that people want to sin, more than they want to do right. They do not want anyone, including God, to tell them that they cannot sin, or to condemn them for doing so. “Sin” is a word that creates discomfort and most people desire it removed from the American vocabulary. No amount of “wishing” will change God’s law about sin. He still says, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). This message from God can be understood by Americans! We may not like it, but we cannot change it! We deceive no one but ourselves when we become convinced that such Scriptures are untrue. Clearly, many people have deceived themselves when 7percent of Americans would kill a stranger for $10 million! The church has the urgent task of teaching the world and itself to live like God’s word says we should live. Our local news reported this week that a father had been arrested for killing his two-year old child and casting the baby’s body in a nearby river. One’s baby is not a “stranger.” The moral recession in our nation is worse than its economic recession!
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 13, p. 391
July 4, 1991