Is America in a state of moral decline? Are we teetering on the edge of judgement from the angry hands of God? Maybe, but I am not as convinced as some are. What I do know is that nostalgia is a common condition among us politically conservative Christians. “If we could only get back to the way things used to be.” If we could only see how America is going downhill fast. If we could only see how far we are fallen in our morality. Divorce, gay marriage, socialism, abortion, and the like are often used to raise the big red flag and dictate our marching orders.

Fear. That is the word. Fear calls us to action. Fear, it could be argued, is as great a motivator as hope. And with the elections coming up, fear tactics seem to be used to take away hope. For years I have heard comparisons to the great civilizations of the past and how they fell. America, we are told, is not far behind. Once this type of fear begins to sterilize hope, the guns come out of the closet.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have often admitted that I am a one-issue voter. Regardless of the importance of the myriad issues facing our society, abortion is the one my mind and conscience simply cannot overlook.  I pride myself in being able to see all sides of an issue, but this is one where I have never been able to see the “pro-choice” side and I don’t suppose I ever will.

However, that aside, I am not so sure that yesteryear looks much better than today. Getting back to the “glory days” of early America seems like a bit of wishful thinking where we are not fond of wearing our historians’ caps. Do we really want to get back there? Do we really think that we are in the death valley of American history? For me, it is hard to see how, excluding abortion, America was not worse then than it is now (or at least on equal footing). Here is a list of things that goes through my mind:

1. Over half a century ago, blacks were thought to be inferior to whites. In many cases they had to use separate restrooms, ride separate school buses, drink from separate water fountains, and a host of other unconscionable things.

Let that sink in for a bit.

2. I don’t think women were better off. Back in the “good ol’ days,” it was culturally acceptable for husbands to beat their wives. It took activists nearly 100 years to win women the right to vote in 1920.

3. Going back a bit further, we had people who fought and died to keep slavery a part of the American “dream.” Not only this, but they did it with a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other.

4. How about the glory days of child labor?

5. What about eugenics? You know, the evolution-based sanction upon those who the courts decided were so mentally  unstable that they should not be able to have kids that might inherit the same dysfunction. In all, 60,000 Americans were sterilized in the name of hope for mankind. We were one step away from being Nazis.

Maybe we should go back even further.

6. In the 19th century, prostitution was ingrained within the culture to such a degree that there were over 200 brothels in lower Manhattan alone. It is estimated that nearly seventy-five percent of men in New York had a sexually transmitted disease. And that is uphill from today when we talk about sexual ethics.

I could go on.

Am I missing something about the glory days?

I don’t mean to say that the moral climate of our world today is not terrible. The breakdown of the family, the killing of the unborn, homosexual marriage, and the intellectual persecution of Christians are terrible. In many ways we have become a lot worse. But in many ways we have become much, much better.

I don’t think America is going downhill morally. We have always been in the valley of depravity. Is our moral climate today THAT bad? Yes. But it is not THAT much worse than before, is it?  God’s judgement was as deserved then as it is now. I just don’t like all the talk about how bad things have “become.” God’s grace sustains us now as it did then. Let’s keep improving and fighting for human rights, the family unity, sexual morality, and all these things. But let us also realize that we live in a broken world. No matter where you go in history, I don’t see it being too far “uphill.” And maybe we should tone down the fear propaganda in the church. It might get some donations here and there, sell some books, preach some good sermons, and get people fired up, but it also fails to take its cue from history.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    57 replies to "“America is Going Downhill Fast” . . . and Other Stupid Statements"

    • Pete again
    • Donnie

      Youve all missed Scotts point whether intentionally or not. He is not saying women are not equal in essence. He is only saying that women are not good voters and have proved it. Each of you have seemed to dodge his argument with non arguments proficiently.

      “It [feminism] is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands.”
      ― G.K. Chesterton

    • Francis

      I don’t think Scott’s point was missed at all. And I too am bothered by his comment, echoing what Pete said in comment #48 (at least the first 1/2).

      If someone’s perceived or presumed capability to judge what is good for the society (i.e. someone else) is what qualifies them to vote or not to vote, that would probably rule out a significant chunk of the society, and essentially render the word “democracy” or “equality” meaningless. And politically speaking, that indeed is injustice.

      And I do get what he said about “lack of right to vote =/= disrespect toward so and so”. I have sometimes argued along similar lines that slavery of old is perhaps not that much worse than what we have today, which is arguably a more covert form of mass slavery. But in reality, those who had no right politically had little protection socially — because the majority in the “other” groups often have little or no interest in watching out for them — a well attested fact by history.

      That said, I think the best that Christians can do is to go where our conscience takes us. Where it would take me (if I were to vote), politically speaking, is to side with the liberals; but if it takes you to Romney’s side, then kudos to you too.

    • Eden4110

      I have not read much the comments but I am glad to hear someone finally say the truth about the fear the body of Christ has succumbed to. The fear is so substantial that our faith seen by our actions in the face of social and political conflicts seem to be under trial. I have wondered now for many months, “Where is our faith in God collectively?” It concerns me to think body of Christ tends put our trust in political candidates more that the confidence that God has it all under control….. is appalling. Sure we are to play an active in role in society as a model for Christ-like character in all that we do. Even though the fear of the future is what some of us experience, our focus should be that the Lord will complete His will in our lives even on a national level. We shouldn’t forget our focus to be missional especially to those that are not believers. I find myself more on my knees than bantering and complaining about the state of the circumstances. It should be obvious to us, that God is a prayer answering God. Grave mistakes have been made in the past but look as what has transpired. I believe it was due to the prayers those that remained faithful to God’s purposes and plans for humanity. I pray that after this election regardless of the outcome that our faith and focus will be on plans of God will be a the forefront not on our fears. Fear maybe a motivator but it can produce negative as well as positive outcomes. We overcome our fears by our faith. If I am afraid I check my trust barometer.

    • Jessica Lynn

      If I may add to these conversations, I’d like to point out that one of the most difficult things I’ve noticed that has changed (besides the obvious things like God being removed from a lot of things, as well as crosses, the Christmas manger scene, etc), is that the word “Christian” has been used, misused, and misunderstood. In these HUGE, so-called “mega-churches,” we now have pastors who preach to a mass amount of people, but yet, they preach on “inspirational” and “feel good” sermons, rather than delving into the scripture on topics such as heaven and hell, and God forbid homosexuality – simply because they don’t want to “offend” anyone or “lose members.” After all, it’s now ok to call yourself a “Christian” and to live a life that is not in line with the scripture. Follow me??? People have been deceived and don’t even know it!!! It’s a sad time in America today.

    • Richard S.

      There were always negative aspects to being American. Slavery, improper work conditions, etc.. However, as compared to the rest of the world, the USA grew in leaps and bounds and became the world’s greatest and strongest power. The best education and the strongest moral codes produced the best students and the most highly educated society that fought oppression and defeated the Nazis and Japan. The USA did more good for this world than all other nations combined.
      Since the early 1960’s when the “RIGHTS” issues became prominent, the effects of which caused the beginning of the end of the USA as a power. Divorce, the break up of the family, colleges with communist professors and the establishment of progressive/socialist/communist thinkers who want to destroy capitalism and make all good Americans feel guilty for the failures of other countries. I as one, do NOT subscribe to feeling guilty. Not a perfect nation, but heads and heels above the rest, I am watching a president and his cohorts make entitlements a way of life to get the vote of the lazy ones. Illegal immigration is being defended. Refusal to use our own natural resources. The demonization of anyone who truly loves America. Gay marriage. Heather has two mommies.
      Once it became normal for women to stop being mothers and become workers, the family dissolved and the result are the divorces and broken families. Lack of rules, morals, discipline are the norm now. Imagine that it is now considered unGodly for children to win by too much in a sporting event. EVERYONE IS NOT EQUAL. And, by trying to make everyone think that having advantages makes you evil is just not acceptable to this American.
      Wake up America.
      Half the country is on entitlements and is hypnotized to demanding what is in your pocket.
      Wake up America.

    • Mike

      Every great civilization had a religion to hold on to, that kept it’s people “Human”, not barbaric, that kept faith and moral in its people, unfortunately that does not apply to the USA, as moral is fading away day by day… less respect.. less humanity…less honor, we are turning into animals…, and believe it or not, for all those passed years, religion was the only thing that protected humans from losing their moral, but now sadly, i am afraid of what is going to happen to us and humans faith… i just wish i was born in one of those great ages.

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