We began PART I by looking at where we came from. America began as a nation dedicated to God; the natural child of the Reformation philosophy that understood the preeminent role of God and His Word in the proper ordering of the world. We then traced our fall. Willingly blinded by the lies of the Enemy, we fell victim to Humanism – the enthronement of Man as the measure of all things – and Materialism – the notion that nothing existed but matter. And thus the chaos came; a wound of our own choosing. In the course of things – and in the words of Lincoln: “We have forgotten God!” Thus we lost our way. And for the majority of our culture: The voice of God began to fade into distant memory.
PART II – A LOSS OF DISCERNMENT
Ah the New Reality! To those of us who are say – over 40, perhaps over 50 – it is really quite stunning. America is not the America that we grew up in. The experience is the same in the West and all across the globe. This is not the same world into which we were born. And the majority don’t really seem to mind that this is so. Due to the refusal on the part of the Supreme Court to hear a defense of marriage case in 2014, the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal jumped from 17 to 37. There are 13 states that have enacted gay-marriage bans. Of these, 8 have been declared unconstitutional by the lower courts; so some of the bans are only temporarily in effect – as they await their cases to wind their way through the court system.[i] It seems only a matter of time. Just a few weeks ago the Supremes heard a case that will likely decide the case of marriage for the entire nation. In just a matter of weeks we will know their decision. Should they decide – as seems likely – that the Biblical definition of marriage should no longer apply, it would mean that an institution that has survived for thousands of years – and served as the foundation stone of society in every successful culture – will be altered beyond recognition or reason.
In the world, especially in the West, this represents both a reversal of fortune and a tragedy. Europe is the birthplace of Western culture and nursery of modern Christian thought. In the United States the fall is even greater. As De Tocqueville wrote: “It must never be forgotten that religion gave birth to Anglo-American society.” The great social commentator concluded that it was this marriage of moral-religious thought with the American political culture, that gave American patriotism its “peculiar force.”[ii] Time and again history has proven that it is shared religious belief that stands as the bedrock that gives birth to great cultures. It was the Paganism of Rome, the belief in Jehovah for the Jews, and the Egyptian worship of nature’s gods that defined those societies. Historian Will Durant concluded: “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”[iii] Morality and culture follow a shared religious ethic. And that is exactly what is coming apart today in America and the West.
The death of a nation is a many faceted event. It includes Cultural Decay. This can be seen in the decline in the effectiveness and purpose of education, the rejection of traditional values and the rise of rampant and unapologetic materialism. Then there is Social Decay in which lawlessness takes hold of a society. Both Greece and Rome displayed this charecteristic before the deaths of their empires. We see it in America today. But the issue most salient to today’s argument is the one of Moral Decay. Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries wrote the following. “Three important trends demonstrate moral decay. They are the ‘rise in immorality,’ the ‘decay of religious belief,’ and the ‘devaluing of human life.’” As Roman morality collapsed the Empire became increasingly “vulnerable to the barbarian hordes.” As the shared ethic of humanist public education and the political correctness of mass media erodes our moral compass, today’s America has become vulnerable to the onslaughts of Material Humanism, Islam and the rampant paganism of New Age and Eastern religious thought. The issue of abortion, for instance is no modern invention. Historian Catherine Edwards wrote of the rampancy of this practice in ancient Roman culture. And in Greece, “Promiscuity, homosexuality and drunkenness became a daily part of life.” Anderson rightly concludes: “We as a nation and a people must rise to the occasion or suffer a fate similar to that which has befallen civilizations in the past. The task is not easy since the patterns of decay found in other nations strike ours as well. Nations were subverted by false and foreign ideologies. We too find hostile ideas in the public arenas of media, politics, and education. Sexual promiscuity led to the downfall of these nations. So too we find similar patterns of sexual promiscuity and debauchery.”[iv]
Thus, as a nation, we are well along in the process of rejecting God. As we’ve abandoned rational processes we’ve lost the Social Consensus. We, as a nation – have become a Law Unto Ourselves. “Every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6) (ESV) That’s where we’re at now! ……We NO Longer Hear the Voice of God! This then is perhaps the Danger of Eating the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. WE make up the Rules….according to our preferences and predilection and the Rules become whatever it is that we want them to be. This is the Foundation that is Destroyed. We’ve Destroyed Our Own Foundations. (No Enemy could do this for us…or …to us.) In our lusts and our selfishness – we’ve torn down the Infrastructure that can support us….that can support a Free Culture.
Proverbs 11:3 asks: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (KJV) Of what must this foundation consist? There needs to be a Common Internalized Morality that is Externally Given! That is the only structure on which can successfully build. John Adams expressed this in a speech to the military in 1798. “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[v] To build on any other – to build on our own fallible and ever-changing notion of morality – is to be building on sand. Jesus warned us that any structure not built on God’s Word was like a house built on sand. It would not stand the test of time and trials. “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:26-27) (KJV)
Today we are facing that very destruction of the foundation. So the question becomes with regard to that Proverbs 11 passage: Who are the righteous? Are they the ‘Good People’? Are they the ‘Professing Church?’ I don’t think so! Scripture tells us that “There are none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) The RIGHTEOUS are those that are made righteous by the Only One that can, the Messiah Himself. It means ‘right standing’ with God. And there is only one way to achieve that righteousness. There can be only one way. Both Scripture and Reason demand that understanding of ultimate Right & Wrong – of Morality & Immorality. So, we are MADE Righteous…those of us that are His People, that are “called by His Name” (2Chronicles 7:14) And though Righteous, we walk cognizant of our own imperfections. Witness the stumblings of the Corinthian Church – or the Congregation of Israel in the Desert. These were the People Called by His Name. Our Righteousness then comes NOT from Ourselves….but externally: from the One Source – The One God. And we walk well when we embrace that Light.
Thus to return to a point: We prosper as a culture when we build on a foundation of shared values; when we become a society of shared morality. And this Morality MUST be a Common Internalized Morality….that is Externally Given …..by the ONLY TRUE LAW GIVER HIMSELF….By the God who created and therefore understands the Universe. This is the Very Thing the God of the Bible Promised would happen. He said He would draw a People unto Himself….And Write the Law on Our Hearts. We find this promise relayed by the Prophet Jeremiah. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—….. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33)
It is only when that happens that we become Righteous – by the declaration of God Himself. It then becomes our responsibility to walk in this new, acquired Righteousness. It is Paul who touches on this in Philippians 2:12-13, where he writes: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” What’s he saying? Obey and work out …..what God is working and willing ….for His purposes. Walk in Righteousness. WALK IN RIGHTEOUSNESS!! And we are commanded in Galatians 5:16 to “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (It is because we do not that we have the divisions we do.) As we walk in the Spirit – God will produce in us the Fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
But if we walk in our own fleshly lust – we produce the fruit of lust and selfishness. So we see the failing of our culture….the Homosexual Ascendancy, the Acceptance of Abortion as a ‘Solution’, the explosion on Non-Biblical Social / Sexual Morality. And all of these come with the tacit approval of God’s People. This is our fault. We, the Church – have accepted this morality….by remaining silent, by voting our pocketbooks, by not acting as light and salt to a perishing world. We have abandoned our moral principles ….much to our shame.
Thus we have become the generation that is witness to the onset of complete moral confusion. And instead of a Common Internal Morality – (written in our minds and on our hearts) – Externally Given – (by the Creator-God of Scripture) – the Enemy has sold us on an External Morality – (‘It’s all good’ / Hyper Tolerance) – Internally Given – (crafted to our own lusts and weaknesses). Thus we’ve become the creators of our own moral law ….forever subject to change. And that stands in direct contradiction to the Law of God.
[i] 37 States with Legal Gay Marriage and 13 States with Same-Sex Marriage Bans, ProCon.org, Monitored May 19, 2015
[ii] Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1847, pg 4
[iii] Durant quoted by: Jim Nelson Black, When Nations Die, Tyndale, 1994, pg 9
[iv] Kerby Anderson, When Nation’s Die, Probe Ministries International, 2002