America: Tattered & Torn

Will we ever get it right?

Jim Allen

A family member of mine commented on the May You Rest in Peace article by saying. "The tragedy will force our government to provide legislation that will eventually get it right and make America a safer place for all of us." My written response to the well-intended mention was polite and respectful, though perhaps a little unexpected.

While I tend to agree in whole with their assessment about the psychopath in Newtown, I stop short of endorsing the idea America will ever "get it right". The last six of the Ten Commandments were given for the express purpose of protecting us from each other. If everyone followed them, there would be little need for law enforcement and military-grade weapons to resolve disputes among and within nations.

However, by getting rid of the Ten Commandments through legislative action, kids are growing up in America not knowing it is wrong to steal, lie, cheat, and do other dastardly deeds. When I was a young lad, it was common practice for people to leave their homes unlocked, car keys in the ignition, and bikes unprotected. Money left on the table would still be there days later. Theft was not a problem. Today, stealing is a thriving commerce both legally and illegally. When two people shook hands back then, it was a binding agreement—no lawyer needed. Honesty and integrity once ruled America. Today, legal contracts are necessary to confront dishonest people trying to weasel out of agreements. And when there is an agreement, more often than not companies find ways to break the contract in "fine print." When I compare my childhood view of America to today's view, I no longer recognize this land.

No, America is not getting it right and will never get it right—nobody will (Romans 3:23). We've been in moral decline since the mid-1960s. George Gallup and Jim Castelli said, "Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don't read it. And because they don't read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates." How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it's worse than most could imagine. Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can't name even five of the Ten Commandments. "No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time." [1]

"Some Christian leaders say this generation is the most biblically illiterate in history. The problem is young people are guiding themselves by role models and cultural ideology instead of by what the Bible teaches. This should be alarming because the results are becoming increasingly devastating, not just for the Church but for society as a whole. A CBN News person spoke at random to young people on the beach asking: 'Can you name three of the Ten Commandments for me?' One young man replied, 'Nope.' Asking another young man: 'Can you name the first book in the Bible?' 'Testament,' he replied. Asking a young woman: 'Do you think you can get to heaven by doing good works?' 'I think there are pearls in heaven, like a bonus point, you know?' she replied." [2] Do you find these responses given by young Americans disturbing?

Sinfulness is no longer acknowledged by the vast majority of people in America. One reason for this movement away from accountability for bad behavior is that society views sin as an old-fashioned idea that will die out with those who uphold it. Another reason for the fading idea of sin is the Ten Commandments are relatively unknown or remembered by many who once knew them, and in some places, they are outlawed. As a result, society has no comprehension of holiness, which means they have no benchmark for distinguishing good behavior from bad behavior.

Even more disturbing is the teaching of "situational ethics and cultural relativism" in our schools and universities to make us believe there is no right and wrong. In other words, institutions teach students to believe that whatever is right at the moment is what they should do. The harmful impact from the adoption of liberal social norms is wide ranging, further obstructing the true gospel and Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

Even if America endorsed the Christian message and the Ten Commandments, the Columbine High School, Aurora movie theater, and Sandy Hook Elementary tragedies would still have happened because psychopaths live among us. "Psychopaths cannot be understood in terms of antisocial rearing or development. They are simply morally depraved individuals who represent the 'monsters' in our society." [3]

Despite the monsters lurking about in the shadow of this country's greatness, there is much to be thankful for in America. We are a good and generous nation because there remains a remnant of people who embrace God's holy ways (Proverbs 14:11-12). God is sovereign and is allowing our beloved flag to fly even though it is now tattered and torn from the blades of many inequities.

[1] – The Scandal of Bible Illiteracy: It's Our Problem.
[2] CBN News - Know Your Bible? Many Christians Don't (with added emphasis)
[3] What is a Psychopath? by Arkadiusz Jadczyk & Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Image Credit: Chris Walton; "Time to retire this flag"; Creative Commons

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Image Credit: FlickRiver | Published 12-31-12