As fall creeps in on us the TV is filled with ads for the new movies coming to our local cinemas. Yesterday I saw one for the newest addition to our American culture–the assassin as hero. This is, by my count, the third motion picture this year to glorify people who kill other people for a living. Adding in television series’ that feature blow-em-up, shoot-em-down and then go out for a beer after work story lines, we seem to be a people entertained by violence–the more the better. If we add in the gratuitous sex scenes and the elevation of perversion to a positive good–well, back to my title–have we all gone stark raving mad?
What is behind this degeneration of our culture? Why is there no serious “push-back” from people against our glorification of what we have called sin for thousands of years? What has caused our people to be enamored of things which were either shunned or at least disliked by virtually everyone not too many years ago?
I have a tentative answer for that, but it’s only tentative. I believe we have become too individualistic in this country. We have too much democracy, too many “rights”, and not enough community. When I was in college I was a convinced libertarian. I borrowed my motto from a 19th century English woman whose name I now forget–I don’t care what people do as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses. While that position modified as I grew older, and modified even more as I became a better Christian, it still fit in with a lot of my opinions. I have even voted Libertarian in several presidential elections. But I now see how wrong I was.
Society functions best when there are constraints on individual behavior such that good is promoted and evil is denounced. In this country we have experimented with removing those constraints and the results are horrible. Looking for statistics that indicate 21st century America is a just and good society is like looking for snallygasters–you can’t find them. Forty percent of babies are born out of wedlock. Half of all marriages end in divorce. Nearly half of the American people pay no federal income tax, essentially riding free on the national train. Our desires for the novel and the new are all consuming. Millions of babies have been murdered in abortion mills. Celebrities have more followers than Christianity. You all know how this can go on.
In the book of Hebrews the author tells us we are not to cease to meet together–in other words we’re not to cease going to Church. But I believe we can extend that idea a bit–we are not to cease to see ourselves as part of a larger community that has interests extending beyond our personally perceived well being. We have thrown aside all reason and inherited attachments to the seasoned and the accepted and replaced them with our own “feelings” and desires. We have become people whose inner sinfulness now knows no external boundaries. The America our ancestors sought to build is gone and I have no idea how to put that rabbit back in the hat. I suspect it’s too late for that.
But I do know this–no matter how degenerate our culture becomes, the Church of Jesus Christ will prevail. He has promised that not even the gates of hell could overcome the Church. Hard times are coming for the Church. We must put aside all thoughts of America being a Christian country. It’s not and it won’t be. We must be ready for persecution, for it is coming. And we must believe the promises of God that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.