AMERICA’S PROBLEM IS SPIRITUAL – I

by Bob Wheeler

173

Paul at Athens

          Currently there is a great deal of hand-wringing going on over the thoroughly unpalatable choices the two major parties have given us this election cycle.  The Democrats, of course, have done what everyone expected them to do – nominate a more or less secular liberal.  What is shocking is what the Republicans have done – nominated someone who is not particularly conservative, has no prior government experience, and whose personal moral life is far from exemplary.  Nevertheless, the argument is being made in some quarters that Christians have a moral obligation to vote for Donald Trump because Hillary Clinton must be kept out of the White House at all costs.

But Hillary Clinton is not the problem.  Both she and Trump are symptoms of a much deeper problem, the spiritual and moral decay of American society.  In a democracy politicians merely reflect public opinion.  The real question is, what has brought public opinion to the point at which both major parties have nominated candidates who have serious ethical problems?

The problem starts with secularism.  In Romans chapter 1 the apostle Paul gives us a vivid picture of a morally decadent society.  And, as he makes it clear, the process of decline begins with secularism.  Paul says that “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God . . .” (v. 21; NKJV).  Paul is undoubtedly describing Graeco-Roman society as he saw it in his day.  It was pagan and polytheistic.  But how can it be said that “they knew God”?

The answer is that the knowledge of the existence of God is available to every human being.  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (v. 20); or, as we might better translate it, “From the creation of the world . . . are perceived in the things that are made, being understood . . .”  Proof for the existence of God is literally as plain as the nose on one’s face – look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself one basic question: why is your face symmetrical?    The order and structure of nature could not have happened by accident, through a blind, impersonal, purposeless natural process, and the Darwinists would have us to suppose.  There has to be an intelligent Supreme Being behind it all.

Why, then, are there so many people who deny it?  Why were there so many polytheists in Paul’s day?  So many secularists and even atheists today?  Paul says they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18).  They “became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (v. 21).  They do this “in unrighteousness” – there is something in the human personality that does not want to acknowledge God or act righteously.  And so a process of rationalization sets in – we construct whole philosophical systems to explain away the truth.  And probably in modern life the turning point came with the publication of The Origen of Species in 1859, an attempt to explain nature apart from God.  This has become the foundation of modern secularism.  And the basic premise of secular education is that we can understand reality apart from God.  We can study creation and completely ignore the Creator.

The result?  “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves” (v. 24).  Perhaps no more terrifying words are found in Scripture: “God gave them up . . .”  God has abandoned us to our vices.  We are living in gross spiritual darkness.  The word “uncleanness” is commonly used in the New Testament to refer to sexual immorality.  It is perhaps no accident that that the Supreme Court’s decision on prayer and Bible reading in the public schools was followed by “the Sexual Revolution.”  We have separated sex from love and as a result find ourselves unable to sustain stable relationships with the opposite sex.  We now have a whole generation of young people who do not know what a stable home life is, and they are paying a terrible toll personally and emotionally.

And why has this come upon us?  Because they “exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen” (v. 25).  In other words, there is an element of willful rebellion in all of this.  Why do we concoct patently false explanations of reality?  Because we don’t want to acknowledge God.  When confronted with the evidence for the existence of God, we deny it.  And thus secular society lies under the judgment of God.

Thus our root problem is a spiritual one.  What we are witnessing today is the result of decades of secularism and materialism.  Public morality has eroded and our family structure has collapsed.  Democrats have been morally lost for several generations now What is shocking about the present state of affairs is that now the Republicans are prepared to join them.

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