The beginnings of moral decline.
The Gallup researchers reported that 81% of people recently polled consider American morality to be be either fair or poor. Their polling data, taken May 3-7, 2017, also revealed that 77% of the polling population believe that American standards are trending downward over the past six years of comparative surveys. If you are interested in the data as reported by Gallup News, you can view a synopsis of their report here.
in my personal opinion, which is just that, without research verification, the beginnings of this decline are in three definitive areas of traditional moral and ethical thought: the deaths of respect, kindness, and decency in our culture. Without them as significant moderators of morality the standards that have defined the nation for 240 years are in a period of serious re-construct. Join me in considering them for a moment---
Contemporary thought suggests that all respect is to be earned. However, there are levels of respect that should be afforded without regard to relational dynamics or personal preference. These include---
1. Respect for all humans created in the image of God.
2. Respect afforded to others because of their positional influence in our lives. These include those in our familial circles, our elders, leaders of government, church, places of authority, or those who serve to aide and assist us in life.
Peter wrote, "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers; fear God, honor the king" (1 Peter 2:17, NIV). Scripture affirms this positional respect as an outcome of God's sovereign placement of them in our lives. Contemporary culture, of course, has reduced our concepts of respect to personal preferences, biases, and our overall appraisal of where others fit into them. As a result, our respect for elected officials, those entrusted with authority over us, and people not like us has diminished. The death of respect has created a culture of civil disobedience, the devaluation of human life, resistance to authority at just about every level, racial tension, sexual perversion, family conflict, and disharmony within Christ's church.
Several years ago random acts of kindness trended across the nation. Today, most kindness is random. Perhaps the death of respect has conditioned us to be more self-aware and, as a result, less prone to express simple kindnesses to others. It's true that the velocity, mobility, and anonymity of the times pace most of us to the point of less awareness of what is happening around us. But, deference to the elderly, tolerance of others, self-denial, and personal agendas have seconded kindness to a lower rung on our system of priorities. Each day I am reminded that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) that should define my life. Even more, the Apostle Paul wrote that I should "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience..." (Colossians 3:12) to define my interaction with other humans. What a novelty, being kind.
Decency is simply behavior that conforms to accepted standards of morality or respectability. Connect the dots to understand that declining moral standards will also reduce our understanding of what is decent and respectable. In contemporary America respectability is in a period of serious deconstruct. This downward trend is apparent in our dress, language, public behavior, expressions of protest, resistance to authority, run of the mill everyday conduct, and even in our use of precious constitutional rights. Evidently our sophisticated, new world systems have erased such courtesies as age before beauty, do unto others as you would have them do to you, ladies first, yes ma'am and no ma'am (and their sir counterparts), and thank you. It's now a "have it your way" world and common decency has slipped to the edges of everyday life.
These beginnings aren't actually the roots of this moral decline. It's much deeper than what can be observed at the big box store, the parking lot, in a pedestrian walk-way, or another person's habitual pew at church. There's this collision of worldviews that has transferred most moral standards to the self-service aisle. And, that's the deal tomorrow.
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