Based on the more common ways of viewing religious expression, Sweden is considered the least religious nation in the world. (Of course, that is not true based on a worldview perspective, as their religious foundation is actually Naturalism. They are just as religiously active in their faith as anyone who follows any other religion.) Sociologist Phil Zuckerman spent 14 months interviewing people there to try and understand their view of God. His findings: People are not so much anti-God as they are utterly oblivious to religious matters. Eighty percent of the population consider themselves either “not religious” or “convinced atheists.”
Next, let’s have a look at our neighbors to the North. In 2012, Toronto, Canada passed a “transgender law” which made “schools legally responsible for eliminating barriers to inclusion based on gender identity and gender expression. So, what has been the result of this new law? Recently, a Toronto public school teacher announced he is using “all-gender cabins” for students on school camping trips. In making the decision to do this, because of the law, the school did not even need to obtain parental permission. Beyond that, this teacher declared that “wearing underwear around the cabin was acceptable for boys and girls, and those who identify as ‘boy’ or ‘girl.’” The teacher played down the possibility of sexual activity among the children, stating that the students had been taught to “sensitively articulate both the policies in place prohibiting the behavior and the underlying heteronormativity of the concern.” In other words, the kids had been taught that looking or thinking about another person in a sexual way based on their biological gender was wrong. Because of this instruction, the teacher was convinced they would not act out. Of course, what is not overtly stated, but is implied in the teacher’s statement, is that the wrong is thinking of sex in terms of biological gender. If their reason for thinking and acting sexually is not based on biological gender, there is nothing improper. You see, the “transgender law” is not just about people who self-identify as transgendered. It is a subterfuge to change the very basis for understanding what is moral and immoral sexual behavior.
But that is Sweden and Canada. It is unimaginable that, with America’s biblical heritage, we would ever arrive at a place where God is simply a non-factor as in those countries, right? Sadly, both of these examples illustrate exactly where America is moving. The Sweden illustration demonstrates where we are going religiously and philosophically, while the Canada example expresses how that belief gets expressed in society.
A large swath of American society has already become Sweden. It is not difficult at all to find YouTube videos of roving reporters asking people about their belief in God, and getting the same kinds of answers the pollsters got in Sweden. By the same token, we see articles in newspapers and magazines virtually every day reporting on efforts being made to pass the very same transgender laws that Toronto is using to promote sexual deviance among their children. Even though I know this mindset is very prominent, it still sometimes takes my breath away to see the degree to which overt godlessness has permeated our society.
While all of America has not yet moved to the level of Sweden and Canada, it is evident that we are rapidly shifting in that direction. One of the indications of that happening is what we see in a certain segment of the so called “Christian” population. Sadly, the worldview beliefs behind the anti-God movement in secular society are finding their way into many churches, as well. We see it in groups which follow a form of theology which denies the core beliefs of the Christian faith. These people gather under the banner of “Progressive Christianity,” and are represented by such groups and theological positions as, the Emerging Church, Center for Progressive Christianity, Sojourners, certain mainline protestant denominations, Liberal Christianity, Liberation Theology, Postmodern Theology, and Neo-orthodox Theology. The people associated with these groups and theological positions self-identify as Christians, and even keep the facade of the church. But they have adopted a belief system which substitutes social justice (temporal salvation) for the biblical teachings about the true nature of sin and salvation.
One website that promotes Progressive Christianity (http://progressivechristianity.org) lists eight basic principles which characterize their beliefs. It states: By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who…
1. Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;
2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey;
3. Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to: conventional Christians and questioning skeptics, believers and agnostics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities, and those of all classes and abilities;
4. Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;
5. Find grace in the search for understanding, and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;
6. Strive for peace and justice among all people;
7. Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth;
8. Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.
Other beliefs associated with “Progressive Christianity” include:
∙ An understanding of spirituality as a psychological or neural state;
∙ Critical interpretation of the scripture as a record of human historical and spiritual experiences, and theological reflection;
∙ Acceptance of people who have differing understandings of the concept of “God;” such as pantheism, deism, and non-theism;
∙ An affirmation of both human spiritual unity and social diversity;
∙ A steadfast solidarity with the poor as the subjects of their own emancipation, rather than being the objects of charity;
∙ Compassion for all living beings.
If you read these statements carefully, you will see that the beliefs they are promoting are such things as Unitarianism, Universalism, acceptance of any lifestyle as moral, acceptance of any sincerely held belief as legitimate, economic and social equality as the basis for salvation, morality based on relativism, environmental and animal rights activism, and biblical interpretation based on naturalistic principles. What we have here is the creation of a theological statement which does not begin with biblical teachings. Rather, it begins with naturalistic worldview presuppositions, then interprets the Bible through that filter. So, when it comes time to interpret the Bible, they cherry-pick passages from the text which support their beliefs, and ignore anything that doesn’t.
One common example we can point to that is a particularly strong emphasis of these folks relates to the belief that the purpose of Jesus’ ministry on earth was to fight for the poor and the down and out. Now, this does not sound so far fetched … until you dig a little deeper to see what they actually mean. What is really being asserted is that salvation involves using political and economic pressure to change the balance of power in society to favor the poor over the more well off. The mechanism for doing this is the redistribution a nation’s wealth. They do this by instituting Communist and Socialist principles. When this redistribution is accomplished, they believe justice has been achieved in society, and the people have been saved.
By reinterpreting the purpose of Jesus in this way, they, literally, take away the moral authority of God and the Bible. In its place, the authority source becomes their progressive principles – which are based purely on the opinion of those who hold this point of view. The result is, by taking away the focus on eternal salvation, all that is left is a focus on material circumstances – which is bolstered by the various liberal theological positions.
We already mentioned a couple of places where this plays out in real life – changing the economic and political plight of the poor by force of law. But there are others, such as:
∙ the acceptance of beliefs which come from non-biblical sources;
∙ the acceptance and approval of all other religious traditions;
∙ salvation as an economic and political outcome (as opposed to spiritual regeneration);
∙ the use of liberal theological paradigms (as opposed to acceptance of the authority of the Bible);
∙ peace and justice as a purely material result, as opposed to a spiritual end;
∙ emphasis on environmental and animal rights activism as a means of promoting justice;
∙ understanding of spirituality as nothing more than a psychological or physiological state;
∙ promotion of anti-establishment political activism and Socialism/Communism as the means of salvation.
What this Has to Do with Immorality
At this point, you may be wondering what all this has to do with the normalization of immorality in society – as suggested in the article’s title. The answer is, there is a direct correlation between a person’s beliefs and their moral expression. When the foundation which defines morality is eliminated, the need for a foundation doesn’t simply go away. What results is that a new foundation is inserted to take the place of the old. And the new foundation which has emerged in Western societies is based on Naturalism.
Naturalism is the belief that the natural universe is all that exists. That being the case, there is no God, thus no transcendent moral values. The only possibility, at that point, is for human beings to make up their own morality. And that is exactly what has happened.
Based on Naturalism, there is no place for human life to be deemed sacred. Human beings are merely one animal species among many. If it is considered by the majority that abortion, doctor assisted suicide, euthanasia, infanticide, or the extermination of any given group is best for the collective, then it can be okay.
Based on Naturalism, lying, stealing, or doing anything else that advances one’s personal goals can be considered moral. Since there is no God (so no moral absolutes), the ultimate goal in life becomes personal satisfaction and the survival of the collective. Literally anything can be considered legitimate in the quest to accomplish these objectives.
Based on Naturalism, there is no reason for considering the traditional family as “right.” Whatever grouping “feels right” or is accepted by society, can be recognized as legitimate. This can include homosexual marriage, polygamy, polyandry, or any other grouping one can imagine.
Based on Naturalism, there is no such thing as right and wrong sexual morality. There is no reason why any form of sexual relations, inside or outside of marriage, cannot be considered legitimate (fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pedophilia, polyamory, bestiality, etc.).
And this is the place we have arrived in our culture. Virtually all of the things which are considered moral based on biblical values have been set aside, and a human based value system has been put in its place. As a result, we see immorality normalized in the entertainment industry and in society at large. We see dishonesty and lack of integrity normalized among our business people and politicians. We see lies and distortion of the truth as an everyday element in reporting by our news media. And we see those educating our children basing their teaching on a belief system which promotes the acceptance of all of these.
Ultimately, there is only one solution to this problem – for Christians to, in massive numbers, become faithful in once again taking the gospel message out into the culture, and leading people to faith in Christ. Outside of this kind of spiritual transformation, nothing will change.
In some ways, it is much more difficult in our current day to do that. As can be seen from the explanations above, it is not simply a matter of going up to someone and sharing a gospel presentation. We are not merely fighting against different intellectual beliefs. We are fighting against an entirely different way of understanding the very structure of reality. And people don’t change in that regard by simply being challenged intellectually. They must, literally, be converted in a way that causes them to have a change of heart.
We are fighting in an arena that most Christians simply do not understand, and in which they are not equipped to operate. It is going to take an intentional effort for believers to learn the dynamics of the culture, and the beliefs of non-believers. Then, they must become proficient in sharing the content of the gospel message in that environment. When we become equipped for the task, then God will use us to touch the lives of those who don’t know him. Until we do that, it is only going to get worse.
© 2016 Freddy Davis