“When a nation lacks a common moral language and common religious culture, it frequently devolves into tribalism,” wrote author David French recently. While his comments are a bit of a Debbie Downer, there can be no escaping the fact that when a nation moves from primarily Christian into a secular culture, virtuousness disintegrates.
That may sound like a bold statement to all the agnostics and atheists out there. But there does seem that substantial evidence exists for this maxim. French writes:
“Remove from the public square biblical admonitions such as “love your enemies,” and the hatred has more room to grow. When the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — wither, then the culture is far more coarse.”
In citing Galatians 5:22 from the Bible, French puts his finger on the morality that had been a driving force in American culture for centuries. That, however, begins to wane as the number of Christians declines and the culture starts to deteriorate. Simply put, we are staring down the barrel of culture rot.
“A post-Christian America,” French contends, “is a more vicious America, and…the triumph of secularists is rendering America more polarized, not less.”
Statistics bear this out.
Christianity by the Numbers
A Pew Research study found intensified polarization “across 10 political values has increased from 15 percentage points in 1994 to 36 points today.” It is not novel news that Americans are falling away from the church in large numbers. This was noted back in 2014. And this year a Public Religion Research Study showed a significant drop in the number of white evangelicals, which have long been a political powerhouse in the U.S.
So, it’s no wonder that American culture is taking a hit. Thus Mr. French avers, “much of the elite media celebrates religious decline without seriously and realistically grappling with the consequences. There is so much underlying ignorance of and hostility toward orthodox Christianity in elite media circles that I fear they’re still trapped in the false belief that less Christianity means a better America.”
He is right to fear the consequences of a less Christian nation. A Christian worldview understands the evil that reigns in the human heart which can – and often does – result in a less civilized, less refined culture. Thus, he postulates:
“In reality, a propensity toward division and conflict is deeply embedded in human nature. Tribalism reigns in the human heart. Religious differences can of course be a source of conflict, but a common Judeo-Christian culture also serves the invaluable purpose of providing rules and norms for controlling that conflict and creating the conditions for reconciliation.”
When right and wrong are left to the individual in place of a set moral code, more often than not, cultural chaos becomes the order of the day. As such, the myriad sexual predator stories of 2017 should come as no surprise. If there is no moral assault on lying or promoting violence for one’s political purposes, then the result can be seen in many different ways. One such example is the beating and chaining of a special needs individual to a toilet for days and recording it for all to see because of his supposed political beliefs.
This is primarily because, in a morally bankrupt culture, the ends justify the means. Atheists may argue that they too have a set of moral beliefs and values that have nothing to do with Christianity. But that is the exception rather than the rule. The lack of a faith-based moral code leaves most of the non-believing public morally destitute and prone to embrace anything and everything to advance their personal agenda.
And that is precisely why we have reason to fear the decline of Christianity in America.