Peggy Noonan had an excellent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal Saturday morning in which she pointed out that the American national mood has grown dissatisfied, and the beleaguered economy isn’t the only reason why.
I’ve long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it’s also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture. Now I’d go a step beyond that. I think more and more people are worried about the American character—who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.
Noonan points to a rash of breaking news stories that share one common theme—they all highlight the deterioration of public behavior taking place in our very midst. GSA exorbitance in Las Vegas that mocked fiscal responsibility. Secret Service agents outed for involvement in an overseas prostitution scandal. Youth “flash mobs” vandalizing and stealing, and New York teachers being reprimanded for sexual lewdness among their students.
The basic point? America is losing its morality. As a nation we lack character—the perfection of moral principle in the individual, displayed collectively as a culture. There’s more to the American recession than finance.
And I think Noonan is absolutely right in her assessment. To go a step further, though, I think the intriguing question is Why? Why is America losing its character? One brief answer comes to mind.
When you reject the created design of nature—the perfection of which amounts to “character”—culture itself falls apart.
Our created nature points to our purpose, and purpose is tied intimately to what we call morality. When you reject your nature, you live contrary to your purpose, and that means living the immoral life—the life lived in rejection of God’s created order.
For instance, when you reject basic facets of the created order such as one man leaving mother and father to cling to one woman, bound in marriage (Genesis 2:24), and replace it with homosexuality, cohabitation, and prolonged adolescence, culture falls apart. When the worship of the one true God is replaced by countless “ways” to God, be it Eastern mysticism or Islam or any number of pluralistic religions, culture falls apart. Culture can’t thrive when it rejects the guidelines along which it was made to operate.
The cultural crisis isn’t about a loss of “religious values”; it’s about rejecting the one true Reality that defines everyone and everything on the face of the planet. It’s about rejecting the Creator and choosing instead whatever seems right in the eyes of each man (Judges 21:25).
The question, then, is how can the culture be regained? Or can it?