Following the presidential election, some political pundits are saying, “America is getting the leadership it deserves.” Of course, on one level, that is the case in every election. But for Christians, there is something much more significant going on. In our most recent election, we have opened a window to our soul which has shown who we are. And what is revealed is very different than what we used to be. This is demonstrated not only in the people who have been elected to office, but also by many of the ballot initiatives which have been passed.
Many of us have seen this change in values coming for a long time. I personally believe that the tipping point arrived in the 1960s and 1970s when the secular humanist philosophy (in its many manifestations) became strong enough to take center stage in the culture. It has taken 2-3 generations for it become strong enough to literally change the direction of the country, but this election has demonstrated that it has now come to pass. We are now officially a post-Christian nation.
I believe that this change can be seen in the culture in five very visible arenas. These are places where Christian values used to be dominant, but where secular humanist values now rule.
1. Sexual Morality – In general, we see the decline in sexual morality throughout the entire culture. It is seen in such things as the casual acceptance of pornography, the ease and acceptance of divorce, adultery, cohabitation, recreational sex, and homosexual marriage. Gay marriage was already legal in six states and the District of Columbia. In this election, for the first time, gay marriage won at the ballot box, with three states approving it, while one state defeated an attempt to affirm traditional marriage. On top of that, we now have a president and an entire political party which officially endorses same sex marriage and is actively working to pass laws and promote policy which will institutionalize this as the law of the land. When the opportunity was given at the ballot box to change direction, America chose to move forward with the “new” morality.
2. Hedonistic Morality – In this election, there were two states which legalized the recreational use of marijuana. There are other states which allow the use of medical marijuana and there is continuing pressure to eliminate the federal ban on it. The trend is definitely in the direction of relaxing the laws which limit hedonistic behavior, not just with marijuana, but with other substances, as well. I don’t believe it will be long before this is as common as beverage alcohol.
3. The Value of Human Life – We now have a president and his entire political party which officially promotes abortion as a central tenet of its moral code. In this election, the majority of Americans endorsed that position by keeping them in power in the presidency and in the U.S. Senate.
On top of that, even though the effort to allow physician-assisted suicide narrowly failed this year in Massachusetts, that it is permitted in two states already is deeply troubling. I confidently predict that the secular humanist values which have now taken hold will soon allow this to be a reality throughout the nation as is the case with abortion.
4. Religious Liberty – We have a president and a congress which has already put into place laws mandating that people subsidize abortion, even if it goes against their religious views. These laws impose stiff penalties on anyone who dares stand on their religious beliefs in opposition to this. In this election, Americans had the opportunity to change that direction. Instead, they voted to allow this movement to go forward.
5. Financial Stewardship – The approach to financial stewardship being taken by our current national leadership is based on beliefs which come straight out of Secular Humanist philosophy. It is an approach which has its focus on the collective rather than on the individual. This collectivist philosophy believes that ultimate moral values are expressed by allowing humans who are in positions of power to take resources from those who have and redistribute them to those they believe should receive them. This is quite contrary to Christian values which allow individuals to determine their own stewardship before God. America has, by its vote, chosen to continue this secularist path.
Each of the values listed are Christian values and were the default foundation of American society until recent decades. To be sure, though, this change did not happen based on this election. The election has only shined the spotlight on what has already become the new reality.
I personally believe that the political and social ramifications of this change will be bad. We are going to see higher levels of all kinds of immorality, greater persecution of Christians, more poverty and a continued belittling of the value of life.
But as bad as these things are, they are not the worst that will happen. The worse thing will be the continued spiritual rot that is at the root of it all. These manifestations are merely outward expressions of what is found in people’s hearts. The fact that a majority of our population has now given overt support to decidedly non-Christian values is an indication that we are fully past the tipping point.
There is certainly a place for political involvement to help society become better. But people who do not have a heart for God do not hold values which are able to actually make society better. This only comes from a personal relationship with God.
When all is said and done, the decline in the values that we see expressed in the culture is as much an indictment on Christians as on the culture at large. We have been called to be witnesses to share the gospel to a lost and dying world, but have not done it. Too many Christians have pushed this responsibility aside by rationalization. They claim either that they don’t know how or that it is the job of the professionals, not theirs. The truth is, an attitude change not only needs to happen in society at large, but among the community of believers, as well. Christians are going to have to buck up and learn how to share Christ, then personally accept the mantle of responsibility God has bestowed on us to share our faith with those who don’t know him.
It takes effort to learn how to effectively share our faith in Christ. And this task is more complex now than in previous generations. With our more pluralistic culture, we must now learn not only how to share the gospel message, but how to do it across worldview barriers. This is not beyond the ability of any Christian, but will not happen without an intentional decision to take that step.
Our nation is up the creek without a paddle heading toward a waterfall. Nothing will change until Christians become radically serious about their faithfulness to Christ. Until we do, we will continue to see steady decline.