Imagine playing an NFL or NBA game without rules or referees to enforce established guidelines. Imagine opposing teams having their own set of rules and each team seeking to impose their differing rules. I think all would agree you would have chaos and utter confusion if you had no prescribed guidelines.
We are living in a day and age when everyone is seeking to impose their own differing rules when it comes to morality and the result is utter confusion and chaos. Everyone is seeking to be their own referee. The thought process today is, “What difference does it make how people live? Each can embrace their own morality in regard to one’s ethical or sexual behavior. No objective morality is necessary to have an orderly society. Each person should be allowed to do what is right in their own eyes.”
Well, is it possible to have an orderly society where no adverse consequences occur without an objective moral standard? Can society embrace behavior regardless of how morally bizarre, live without restraint, and that society expect to last? If an objective moral standard is necessary for a society to exist that is not disintegrating, whose moral standard is society to adopt? Can a society without morals survive?
Theologians, historians, and philosophers have wrestled with answers to such questions since time began. However, there is a common thread that runs through the findings of those who have researched why a society collapses: a society is destined for collapse when it adopts godless secularism, rejects an objective morality, and embraces unrestrained morality where each is doing what is right in their own eyes. Arnold Toynbee, the esteemed British historian (1889-1975), observed, “Civilizations die from suicide, not murder” (Toynbee, A Study of History, Vol. I-VI, (London: Oxford University Press, 1947), 273).
Toynbee, known for his twelve-volume work A Study of History, examined the major civilizations in history and why they collapsed. While Toynbee analyzes many factors that results in a nation’s collapse, he observed that when finite human nature engages in moral regress, that society “condemns itself in advance by impiously pitting itself against God’s infinity,” leading to frustration and disillusionment (Toynbee, History Vol. 10, 32). He concluded that the downfall of Western Civilization will occur when it divorces itself “from its moral heritage from Christianity” (Toynbee, History, 92). He wrote, “Of the twenty-two civilizations that have appeared in history, nineteen of them collapsed when they reached the moral state the United States is in now.” An observation made over fifty years ago, how much truer is his statement today?
Will Durant (1885-1981), an American historian, agrees with Toynbee. He writes, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within…. There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion” (Durant, The Lessons of History, (1996), 51). Our first President, George Washington, had made the same observation, citing that religion and morality are “indispensable supports” for the survival of the nation.
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), American-British poet, philosopher, and social critic, insightfully observed that the dominant force in creating a common bond in culture is Christianity where our societal laws are rooted, and “it is against a background of Christianity that all our thought has significance…all spring out of the heritage of Christian culture and depend upon that culture for meaning… If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes” (Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, (1948), 122).
Toynbee, Durant, Eliot all agree if Christian morality is abandoned, even if one doesn’t embrace the Christian faith as true, barbarism will be the result and “no one would be happy with [barbarism]” (Eliot, 122; Durant 51, Toynbee, 92). Toynbee observed civilizations that cast-off moral restraints become involved in an “inevitable progressive defeat” (Toynbee, History, 32).
In today’s society as unrestrained morality continues to progress, society in the attempt to make behavior acceptable that the moral cultural conscience denounces as abnormal or deviant, a redefining of such behavior is undertaken to remove the stigma of embracing the abnormal as normal. Isaiah was witness to this in the culture of his day, warning “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20). Society today has redefined the immoral with euphemisms to make the behavior less offensive and acceptable. Abortion is not murder of the unborn but pro-choice; homosexuality is no longer stigmatized but is only an alternate lifestyle; adultery is not immoral but is simply an extra-marital relationship; transgenderism is no longer emotional and spiritual confusion but is simply gender fluidity, addictive gambling is only playing the odds; drug addiction and alcoholism are no longer self-destructive lifestyles but those involved are recreational users; same sex marriages are no longer seen as taboo but as adding to the mosaic of marriage relationships; explicit pornography is no longer smut but adult entertainment; and the next behavioral redefining will be pedophiles who are pushing their deviant behavior to be accepted as simply the right to express sexual love for another no matter the age. Once the slide into moral degeneration begins, the inevitable end is absolute moral chaos and eventual societal collapse. No matter what flowery words one attaches to abnormal behavior it will not prevent the words of Toynbee proving to be true, “Civilizations die from suicide, not murder.”
Why America’s moral decline? Why is there a redefining of behavior that the moral culture conscience denounces in order to make the behavior acceptable? Why is America in such chaos and turmoil today? Alexander Solzhenitsyn succinctly assessed, “It is because we have forgotten God. That is why all this is happening to us” (From a speech he made in London May 10, 1983, at the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion). The chaos we are witnessing in culture today is clearly connected to our rejection of God, the moral Law Giver. When society rejects the Moral Law Giver from whom morality is derived, then man turns to his own finite human wisdom. Again, as Toynbee summarized, “Human nature has condemned itself in advance to lose by impiously pitting itself against God’s infinity” (History, 32), and that society is delusional if it thinks the outcome will be anything other than collapse. History and the witness of Scripture proves that to be the case.
There is no question America is on the path to committing moral suicide. Can there be an orderly moral society when the Moral Law Giver is rejected? Can society survive without morals? Observation clearly says the answer to that question is “NO.” We have gradually pushed God out of the societal arena, and we are discovering what culture is like without Divine Influence. Well, the results are in and the prophet Hosea has tallied them and the findings are, “They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7).
Can America survive? Not on the path it is presently on. For “if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). The only answer is a sincere acknowledgment of our sin and departure from the holy Father, an embracing of the Judeo-Christian truths and morality found in the teachings and person of Jesus Christ. We need to do an about-face and, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Is. 55:6).
Toynbee’s words wisely advise, “Sooner or later, man has always had to decide whether he worships his own power or the power of God.” It is past time we made up our minds which it will be!!