Witnessing In Decadence
|The United States is a
decadent society. It is declining. Comparatively, it has fallen morally,
in economic importance, in the quality of life it offers. But this is
not all. For the most part the country
is spiritually dying if not bankrupt. What real religion it has often
has been diluted by excessive liberalism.
If you cannot see this, then you may be frustrating the grace you have
been given to see it. Some see it but
others are too proud to admit it. If you are determined to be blind,
okay. All right. But I preach to those
with enough grace and gumption to see the obvious and the guts to admit
It is my conclusion that nearly all the aspects of decadence are inter-related. For example, the loss of religion has meant the loss of the Protestant working spirit and ethic (to glorify God in your work). The loss of the right work ethic contributes to the decline of the economy in world importance. Of course it is not the only cause but a cause.
Some people want to blame too much on the too liberal. I would not suggest this. Be careful there. Liberalism has been a causal factor of decadence. True, it has misled us nearly all the way. But being too liberal is more of a symptom of mental and spiritual decadence than a cause of decadence. Other causes of decadence exist too. Yet it is true that because people have been spiritually put to sleep by liberalism, they have fallen into disastrous pits dug by too liberal thinking.
The relativism of liberalism is an important negative factor. Relativism says everything is equal and nothing is better. For Christians, that means the too liberal have an inability to judge or measure the grace in things. But of course what you don’t believe in, you can’t measure. So much for them.
The decadence of America seems to come from a spiritual void which causes a paralysis of the will and inability to do right. This breeds a moral relativism in thinking, Anything immoral goes and all action is equal in value. But how can we be excellent if there is no excellence, and how can we have a goal of excellence if superiority does not exist? How can there be something better if there is no good?
As you and I know through grace there are all types and degrees of wisdom, excellence, good and godliness. (This is elementary truth for people considering the elemental in living: elemental men and women trying to simplify and consider the place of elementals in their living. God is an elemental.)
The same applies to diversity. The too liberal say all diversity is good. You and I know there is a good and a bad diversity. (Is the bad apple in the barrel of good apples not a diverse one?) Some diversities are good but some are bad. One that did not work was the Tower Of Babel. Some diversity works, and some diversity does not work. To say diversity is a blanket good is nonsense. As you and I know the too liberal are unbalanced in their thinking and not given to careful measuring in their minds. (I think if you took out “diverse” and substituted “bizarre,” you would have a better understanding of what they mean by diversity. They seem drawn to the weird over the blessedly normal.)
What is needed is for materialistic people to be filled with spiritual awareness to form a full and healthy person. Mankind has a dual nature: material and spiritual. Both need to coalesce to make ONE so each will fulfill and bless the other. When a person is healed to be spiritually and physically one whole, that person needs a spiritually balanced Christian faith. (That way people are not taken in by diseased, odd and unbalanced religions such as when Jesus commented that the zeal of thine house has eaten me up. --John 2:17).
The question is: what do we do in a decadent society? First we admit that it is. If we don’t admit to reality, how can we deal with it? To cope with reality, we must recognize reality. The reality is our society is decadent. Is it declining because it is decadent, or decadent because it is declining ? Either way WE MUST DEAL WITH DECADENCE. America is decadent,, you know, and most people of the different countries in the world are aware of this, but too polite to say it.
The too liberal elite who rule, the shallow powers that be, are trying to erase God from the public consciousness. They represent entrenched spiritual corruption. They say the solution to all problems is solely political. That’s not a joke. They will propose a new messiah through politics. Thus the Jews thought when Jesus came. They wanted Him to be a literal, physical messiah. They did not see the problems were deeper and spiritual. They could not recognize that their real problem was spiritual and not political. The same sins are ever with us. America has a really deep spiritual and moral problem.
Politics might be a partial solution, but it is not a full solution. We need a better and deeper solution because our problems are more deep, serious and spiritual, not to be solved by some shallow political rearranging of the deck chairs on our Titanic.
I suggest we need a deeper resolution of the problem than juggling politicians. We need a better solution: a spiritual revolution in our thinking.. Yet be warned:. The sinful nature of mankind is such that a spiritual revolution will not cure everything wrong and make everything right. But a spiritual change will help and make things better. It may not solve, and certainly-won’t solve, everything, but it will improve things in a country whose morals and values are defective and in serious trouble.
The too liberal will say that religion will warp America. I suggest the country will be more warped by lack of religion. America is full of half way people, materialistic, money mad, greedy, and values crazy. If we enabled through grace some half people to become whole people, spiritually aware and thus with better values, we will have done a good thing. A whole people made of a materialism blended with spiritual awareness, will be nearer to having a spiritually balanced faith and in which nature may be fulfilled by grace.
But you may fairly ask: what can we few Christians do in a mean, lop sided, materialistic and only materialistically thinking world? We Christians are lost in a too liberal country and a spiritually ignorant world. We are a minority in a country that say the majority rules. True, sometimes the majority does not rule, but whoever is ruling, the question is the same. What are we Christians to do?
Christians should do the same now that the Christians did in the decadence of the Roman empire. Our cause of decadence may not be what their cause of decadence was, but the decadence is always the same. There are many paths to the moral garbage dump, but if the paths are different, the dump seem much the same.
We need to do what the Christians amidst the decadence of the Roman empire did. We must do today in the decadent American empire and all crazy world countries what the early Christians did in Rome: We live as true to Christ as we can. We proclaim the Gospel of Christ for all. We say and act as if every person counts because they do count: all are the children of our God. We live as best we can lives expressing grace through the grace we have been given. We urge a New Testament faith.
Jesus knew degraded lives might always be in the majority, and the wicked may always have great power, as the wicked shall flourish like a green bay tree. (Psalm 37:35) But the call of Christ was AND IS for His people to be the seasoning salt of society. (Matthew 5:13-14) To be true expressions of life according to the grace given them by God to light up their world.
It was the intention of the early Puritans to make of America a “city on a hill” (Matthew 13:14) America has long since settled for parts of it to be a cesspool in a basement. I have been to see the slums of the poor, moral cesspools, and the houses of the too rich that are too often values disasters. America long ago began its fall from grace. It is still declining. At certain times it seems to be snow balling.
Living in the midst of decadence or among the decadent is trying and difficult. There is no reason to deny this. How about children having to live in front of a television that seems to be owned by a spiritual descendant of Nero: violence, filth, obscenity, encouraging people to be duped by advertising, to see materialism and lasciviousness as the answer? What about the enormous quantity of those on drugs. (It is interesting to note that the central prisons of the poor and criminal are drug academies teaching how to use and make drugs, while the colleges are the drug academies of the better off not usually caught. Dope draws all classes. It draws many. We are living in a country that is a values disaster.)
The scripture tells us that we are called by grace according to a purpose. (Ephesians 3:8) I suggest that the purpose of Providence in placing us in such societies may be for us to witness for God in incredibly decadent societies that are values disasters and spiritually ignorant. (But remember what we see by grace, and what we recognize in others may not be used to demonize them. To recognize a sin comes from grace, but to demonize a sinner is a perversion of the grace given us to see sin. To recognize decadence does not give us the excuse to demonize the decadent.)
Your life may have more meaning in a decadent society where you may hold up your light against an obvious backdrop of moral darkness. You are then more likely to be seen and counted in the Kingdom. Count them happy which endure. (James 5:11)
Do not be bitter or sour that you are placed by Providence in a an immoral, amoral, decadent, class divided, selfish, brutally commercialized, racially strained, spiritually backward, society constantly exposed to a graceless media which does everything for profit. Then the media often try to atone by a few moments of degrading and obvious propaganda.
Yes, you are called to live in a country smug about itself and in the midst of a well-to-do and prosperous people smug about themselves. But those called to grace should not be smug. They should demonstrate their calling by a good and grace filled life lived in the middle of the moral mess and values disaster around them. They must be in the world but not of the world. Romans 12:2 says, “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed.” This is no new challenge to Christians..
Yes, you will naturally at times be wearied and stressed by your calling to live by grace in a dark, greedy, materialistic and decadent society. Consider that grace is given for a purpose (Ephesians 3: 8). Consider if living for Christ in a decadent society is not a fine purpose for you? A good way for you to glorify God! Providence has furnished you with a purpose. Will you take it up?.
Should you not glorify God with a good life full of grace? “casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you (II Peter 3:7). To live the good way and do right in a hostile, morally confused , money mad society on the decline, sometimes snowballing downhill, is indeed high praise to God. By living in a decadent society, a values disaster, “we are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed” (II Corinthians 4:8-9) by the DECADENCE and MORAL CONFUSION around us and through which we move daily. But we are kept alive and safe by the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.