Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cultural Declination

American life and culture have been visibly deteriorating for most of my lifetime. But in the last ten years we have witnessed an alarming descent.

Fornication, divorce, and the murder of the unborn have been relatively routine since the ‘70’s. Now, the push for normalization of homosexuality is in high gear. Police “stings” on child pornographers are often in the news. And we have been hearing rumblings of polygamy as an accepted lifestyle.

Colorful tabloids with scandalous headlines assault us in grocery store checkout lines. Cable news loiters on celebrity misfits. One of our most popular television programs is American Idol, a celebration of the vaunted self. The lyrics of some of our most trendy music are riddled with degradation and debauchery.

Fewer and fewer families regularly share meals together. Family members now take off in their own directions, pursuing their own goals and pleasures.

The American landscape is deluged with the wreckage of relationships and psyches. Institutions supporting healthy, normalized behavior are waning. Human integrity is being disassembled, one person at a time.

The gods of our age are diversity, tolerance (of all but those with a Judeo-Christian Worldview), and the “right” to not be offended. Our Constitution is seen as a malleable document, changing as needed to validate our ego-centered lifestyles.

A generation has now risen to adulthood with little understanding of our unique, American, gift of freedom. Reaping its fruits, these souls remain essentially clueless and disinterested in freedom’s origins, its guiding principles, and its need for preservation.

I have had a great deal of difficulty accepting the idea that America is now a post-Christian nation. I suppose I have been in denial. I have long seen myself as a defender on the wall. But I am beginning to realize that our wall was breached long ago.

Some might say, “What took you so long?”

I think it is because I love my country so much. And the thought of losing it is very difficult to accept. As Lee Greenwood sings, “I am proud to be an American…”

I was raised in the fifties. We were fresh off a stunning American victory over Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Hirohito’s Imperial Japan. I grew up on Davy Crockett, Superman, and Walt Disney. I recited the pledge of allegiance every morning in school, and listened to the Star Spangled Banner on the radio at the beginning of the Cincinnati Reds’ baseball games at Crosley Field.

As I’ve grown older, I have read and studied American history, contemplating our rich undergirding ideology, so much of which is rooted in our Judeo-Christian heritage. And I’ve studied the church in America, our revivals, our foibles, our victories and failures. America would not exist today if not for the Christian church and the Protestant Reformation.

We are now on the cusp of losing much of what has made our nation good and strong. Our decline is primarily self-inflicted. We embraced slavery for two centuries. We stole land and broke treaties with this land’s indigenous peoples. We welcomed Darwin’s insidious ideas, giving room to those who would cast off God’s authority.

This Saturday morning, as I laid in bed, I pondered these things in the moments between sleep and wakefulness. My heart ached.

We have somehow come to think of liberty and license as synonymous. They are not. Freedom for many has become a common, accepted, expected, and almost guaranteed fact of life that, in a self-deluded way of thinking, will never disappear.

But freedom is not forever guaranteed. Over two hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin warned us that our Republic would need to be “kept.” He essentially said that the freedoms we enjoy are not automatic, nor are they guaranteed to endure forever. At the closing of our nation's Constitutional Convention in September of 1787, a woman reportedly queried Franklin as he exited the convention hall, asking him what type of government had been chosen by the delegates. The American sage responded, "We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it."

I fear that our generation, and the generations to come, unless awakened by a kind and tender-hearted God, will not be able to keep our Republic.

Yes, I know, this is a sobering post. The good news is that God is still in heaven, and that He still answers prayers.

May God have mercy.

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